Behind the Scenes in the PAC

 

Article: Katya Yurkovskaya ’22 | Photo: Hillary Rockwell Cahn ’88, P’18, ’22 

 

The global pandemic drastically affected Suffield Academy’s Performing Arts. In 2020, the spring performance of the musical Pippin was canceled. The fall play, Clybourne Park, was livestreamed with no in-person audience. In the spring of 2021, Suffield was finally able to showcase Pippin with a limited audience. Suffield’s performers were grateful for the opportunity to perform, yet they all longed for a live audience. That is why the announcement that the musical, Young Frankenstein, would be shown in person to a full audience in December of 2021 brought a lot of excitement to Suffield Academy’s campus.

The auditions were held in early September, and by mid-September, the show was in full development, with the stage crew creating the set in the afternoon and performers rehearsing in the evening. While being part of the cast was not considered an afternoon activity, rehearsals still required a lot of time and energy (many senior performers took the season off in the fall, knowing that the musical was a serious commitment). As the opening night approached, the number of rehearsals grew, averaging about four two-hour rehearsals per week. Even so, this was nothing compared to the production week.

Production week (notoriously known as “Hell Week”) started with Tech Day on Sunday, December 5th, five days before the opening night. Everyone spent the whole day in the PAC as the lighting was adjusted, the running crew learned where and when different set pieces needed to be placed, and performers got another chance to rehearse (and, when not required on stage, frantically did homework for the upcoming week).

But the nine-hour-long Tech Day was just the beginning, a warm-up. Monday through Saturday, the performers and the running crew lived on the following schedule: wake up, go to school, do homework, at 6 pm report to the PAC, get ready for the show (costumes, wigs, makeup, mics), run the show, go home, never earlier than 10 pm, sleep, repeat. The week was physically draining as everyone tried to stay on top of school while putting their best performance every night.

Nevertheless, the satisfaction gained from being a part of Young Frankenstein was unmatched. The musical itself was hilarious; it was fun to simply perform the funny moments or watch fellow actors rehearsing unforgettable scenes over and over again. The cast bonded incredibly and during the week of production—the words “I’m gonna miss it so much” and “please don’t cry yet, we have three more nights” were heard all over the PAC. And, of course, it brought us a lot of pleasure to hear the enthusiastic reviews from viewers, many of whom labeled the show as “the best one at Suffield.” So, as we rang the bell in the pouring rain on Saturday night, I knew that I had been a part of something I would never experience again, not with the same show, not with the same people, not at the same stage of my life when I, a high school senior, discovered one last time what a joy it is to perform in a Suffield musical.