Nancy Sasso Janis
The young actors in the Torrington High School Student Theatre are presenting David Rimmer’s engrossing play ‘New York’ this weekend at the THS Little Theatre on their campus. Mary McVerry, a mainstay at this theatre, came out of semi-retirement to direct this important and timely piece that explores the aftermath of that horrific day in September that forever changed the city.
The play was originally written by Mr. Rimmer to raise funds for volunteer psychiatrists dedicated to helping the overwhelming number of patients psychologically affected by 9/11. It depicts the reactions of 15 individuals to the events of that day as the characters individually speak to the same psychiatrist. Ms. McVerry writes in her director’s note in the program, “This play is about the survivors--those who worked in the twin towers, those who were first responders, those who lost relatives and friends, and those who are profiting from the horrific event.” The director chose it around the time of the bombings in Paris and two weeks later, the shootings in California; it is a timely piece that “would show the impact that various events have made on us as humans.” Parenthetically, there was also a very nice thank you to this reviewer on the “Special Thanks” page of what was an information-packed program.
For those who remember 9/11 like it was yesterday, it is at times heart wrenching and almost hard to watch these scenes. I could relate to so many of the feelings expressed, especially when they were presented by the talented members of this cast. Each and every one of the characters were clearly drawn, and the teens were obviously well-rehearsed and carefully trained by their beloved director. She was assisted by tech teacher Thomas Lutka as Technical Director, director of choral music Brittany Rondeau as Producer and a host of students as stage managers, producers, light and sound, key grip, prop and make up mistresses and the brilliant student costumer Julianna Provenzano who graduates this year! The amazing set of the doctor’s office (with a fireplace!) was built by many of these same students.
Each young actor nailed their sometimes complicated monologues with conviction. THS senior Nicolette Marinelli opened the show as a teacher trying to explain 9/11 to her young students and teach at same time (achingly accurately, I might add.) Gina Pirla, another senior who played Lady Larkin in ‘Once Upon a Mattress,’ played the beautiful psychiatrist, who had a couple monologues of her own as she dealt with the trauma of others.
Senior Delilah Bourque made her Little Theatre debut as a firefighter who made it out alive and suffers survivor’s guilt. Rachel Inman, a senior, appeared onstage for the first time to play a pilot and Emily Vasquez was spot on in her first high school play as a teen-aged stepdaughter. Nathan Kopler, a senior, played Jed, a worker from Oklahoma who referenced the Federal Building bombing and senior Victoria Rooney played another caregiver helping clients cope. Justin Torres, a sophomore, played an alcoholic named Duff and Spencer Miers, a sophomore, played a newswoman who was in the right place at the right time in her career, but longs to return to the Hartford Courant.
Freshman Natalie Galan returned to the Little Theatre stage for the second time to play an elderly lady and sophomore Shaisck Cornejo was a misguided “Plane Guy.” Amore Berger (‘Once Upon A Mattress’ at THS) was a teenaged babysitter and in her bio graciously thanks Ms. McVerry “for staying for theatre and dedicating her time for our performance.” Rebekah Smith, class of ‘18, was a restaurant worker. Andrew Schimanski, a junior, was a standout as a police detective, as was Maria Santos, a senior, as an unmarried woman named Mary needing help with her grief. Ms. Marinelli as Miss Parker closed the show on an upbeat note back at work teaching her kids.
Torrington HS shows always begin with the playing of the National Anthem and it seemed all the more appropriate at the beginning of this particular play. Some minor lighting issues at the beginning worked themselves out. Kudos to all the students involved in this fine production and the dedicated adults who work with them.
Remaining Performances are February 19 and 20 at 7 P.M.in the Torrington High School Little Theatre. The play is suitable for middle school and older.
Program cover design by Devyn Bartosiewicz, Morgan Kolukisa and Gina Hoa Lam Photos by Nancy Sasso Janis