By Kyra Li (III)
This year, on February 20, 21, and 22, Pingry’s Drama and Music Departments, under the direction of Mr. Alan Van Antwerp, performed Chicago, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. With its show-stopping music by John Kander and choreography by Bob Fosse, Chicago has won 6 Tony Awards, 2 Olivier Awards, and a Grammy. Chicago was written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was influenced by the true stories of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, two women who were suspected of murdering their lovers. The musical follows two women, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, as they commit crimes and find their way to freedom.
The musical opens with the “Overture” and is directly followed by “All that Jazz.” In this scene, the vaudevillian, Velma Kelly (Nicole Gilbert ‘20), is shown shooting her lover. Moments later, the ambitious Roxie Hart (Nina Srikanth ‘20) is also shown shooting Fred Casely (Zach Burns ‘23), the man she is having an affair with. Roxie’s husband, Amos Hart (Alex Kaplan ‘21), initially takes the blame for Casley’s death. Though, when he discovers that Roxie had lied to him, he tells the police the truth, and Roxie is sent to prison. When Roxie talks to Velma and Matron “Mama” Morton (Ola Weber ‘20) in the Cook County Jail, Roxie realizes that she will need a lawyer in order to be set free. Thus, she finds the best lawyer in Chicago, Billy Flynn (Ore Shote ‘21), who also happens to be Velma’s lawyer. As the story progresses, the characters gradually unfold their true intentions and desires, as the attempt to convince the juries of their innocence. In the end, Roxie and Velma are both freed of their charges, and the show closes with a depiction of their duo Vaudeville act.
Throughout the performance this year, unlike many past shows, the pit was visible on stage and was even included in some scenes. Conducted by Dr. Andrew Moore, the pit consisted of students, teachers, and hired professionals. In the weeks leading up to the performances, the pit practiced weekly. The cast and pit also came together for a Sitzprobe, a rehearsal dedicated to integrating the singers with the pit. In addition to the cast and pit, the crew also played a vital part in creating the show. With the help of Mr. Joseph Napolitano and Ms. Emma Barakat, the students helped build the set and worked in the booth, where the lighting and sound was controlled. The costumes were also a major element in the production. Stage manager Julia Guagliardo (VI) said, “Finding costumes was really enjoyable. Mr. Napolitano and the costume team worked very hard to find costumes that fit with the time period and that worked well with our set.”
Overall, Chicago was an amazing experience for all of the cast, crew, and teachers involved. Nicole Gilbert, who played Velma, said, “Chicago was my favorite Pingry production. It was a hard show to be in and to direct because there are so many elements to it, but the cast and crew really pulled it off and made it a very rewarding experience.” The show also taught everyone involved many new skills. Guagliardo stated, “The musical taught me a plethora of skills that I will take with me. Working with such a large group of people was challenging at times, but overall showed me how powerful collaboration is. It was so wonderful to be given the opportunity to work hand in hand with both other students and teachers.”
By Emily Shen (IV)
On Tuesday, January 21st, the Drama II students performed “How to Succeed in High School Without Really Trying,” a short comedy written by Jonathan Rand. Not only did the performance showcase the students’ performing skills, but it also reflected all of the hard work that the students put into their drama class this year. This piece consisted of 7 different “lessons,” including Homeroom, English, Math, Foreign Languages, Science, History, and Physical Education, and each presents the audience with “tips” on how to succeed in the class without overworking themselves.
Each of these “tips” were brought with joy and comedic relief to the audience. For instance, some tips to succeed in English class included “stroking your chin, nodding, stroking your chin while nodding,” and “whenever possible, use the word ‘juxtaposition’ during class discussions.” Students apply these tips into “real-life examples,” triggering heartfelt laughter from the audience members. Another tip in this comedy pertained to foreign languages. For instance, if a student struggles to find the right word, “just rattle off random words anyone would know” such as “déjà vu” and “baguette” for French class.
Behind the enjoyable performance was the hard work of Drama II students and Mr. Van Antwerp. When asked about the rehearsing process for the performance, Sarah Kloss (IV) responded, “It was a large cast, so it was hectic trying to get everyone where they were supposed to be [ … ] but, I think Mr. Van Antwerp chose a play that we thought was really funny, and it was nice to have multiple roles because we were able to play different characters.”
Because it was their first time performing on stage, many of the Drama II students were quite nervous before the performance. “I was actually extremely nervous before we were supposed to perform because I had never performed in front of the whole school before, but as soon as I said my first line, I felt ready” Kloss noted. Franklin Zhu (IV), another Drama II performer, shared an anecdote about his experience. “During our rehearsal before the assembly, I accidentally tripped on the microphone and caused a big scene” said Zhu. “I am glad I did that during the rehearsal and not the actual performance.”
The Drama II assembly was a delightful experience for both the performers and the audience members. Both Kloss and Zhu agreed that the script Mr. Antwerp chose worked really well in a school setting. “I really enjoyed how our scenes were about school. It gave me different viewpoints about the environment we are in,” noted Zhu. Olivia Telemaque (IV) reflected on her experience with the assembly, “I really liked the performance! It was really chill and light to alleviate the tension and stress about all the bad news that recently happened.”
The performance went smoothly, and the cast members did an amazing job collaborating with each other to carry out an enjoyable assembly for the Pingry community. We can’t wait to see future performances featuring these talented students!
By Martine Bigos (IV)
The annual Art Faculty Exhibition was on display in the Hostetter Gallery through January 31. The exhibition featured the work of many Pingry studio art teachers, including Ms. Xiomara Babilonia, Ms. Melody Boone, Mr. Miles Boyd, Mr. Russell Christian, Ms. Rebecca Sullivan, Mr. Rich Freiwald, Ms. Patti Jordan, and Ms. Nan Ring.
Last year, the faculty exhibit, entitled “Now and Then,” explored the teacher’s artistic evolutions. By comparing their older pieces to new creations, viewers were able to see the growth and development of the teachers’ styles. Once again, this year’s exhibit displayed the faculty’s creativity and talent. On Wednesday, January 29, Pingry students and faculty were invited to a reception that celebrated the exhibit. While enjoying snacks, visitors explored the various pieces and appreciated the beautiful artwork.
Among the pieces on display was Ms. Nan Ring’s “Veiled Figures” series. Throughout the series, she explores “the way we fit in—or not—to our bodies, our clothes, our culture, and the planet.” When searching for inspiration, Ms. Ring was drawn to a veil’s “myriad folds and geometric patterns formed by the way the gauzy material overlaps itself as it is draped on the wearer.” She’s hopes that her “paintings evolve for viewers as the viewer evolves” and that they “mean different things to the viewer at different times of their life, just like a poem does for a reader.” In her paintings, Ms. Ring showcased the beauty and complexity of veils, as she explored the versatility of them.
Next up in the gallery is the 24th annual Student Photography Show, which will be showing in the gallery until March 3. The show features the works of students from eleven different private and public schools across the region. Both exhibits, back-to-back, put the talent and creativity of the faculty, and the students they help mentor, on display for the whole community.
By Brooke Pan (III)
On February 1, the students in the Drama program visited the McCarter Theater to see a live performance of the play Stones in His Pocket by Marie Jones. There, students were captivated by the performance of two actors, Garrett Lombard and Aaron Monaghan, who each played more than ten characters throughout the performance. Though different from a standard play in terms of the number of actors, Ms. Stephanie Romankow, the drama teacher, remarked on the importance of how just two actors “were able to portray such a unique story” by “rearranging their physical roles.”
Stones in His Pocket, set in a rural town in Ireland, tells the story of two friends who are hired to play extras for a movie. In the beginning, the friends are enthralled by the idea of being in a movie; however, as the film carries on, the charm and appeal of life on the silver screen starts to disappear. The play is set in motion when a local townsperson commits suicide from the humiliation he underwent when trying to socialize with one of the movie stars of the film. The two friends and the townspeople are devastated by his passing and are conflicted when the film crew are unwilling to let the extras take time off to attend the townsperson’s funeral. After fully understanding his situation, two friends gain a new perspective, allowing them to recognize the reality of how the film crew’s selfish desires to finish the movie left them uncaring for the people of the town. To try and honor the local townsperson, the two friends try to rewrite a script dedicated to his life. When they present the script to the director of the movie, the director ironically suggests the lack of romance would not appeal to the general audience.
After returning to Pingry, classes reflected on their perspectives of the play. When asked about the most important message of the play, Ms. Romankow emphasized “the importance of extras in life,” suggesting that “no one should be overlooked…. Everyone has their own story.” Ms. Romankow thoroughly enjoyed the trip and is looking forward to more drama field trips.
In addition to the teachers, the students also had their own takes on the show. “Watching seasoned actors perform in a show like Stones in His Pockets really allowed us to see how the skills and techniques we learn in drama are implemented at the professional level,” said Megan Pan (VI). Overall, the field trip to the McCarter Theater offered a unique experience for the drama students, one from which they could learn and grow as a community of actors.
By Rhea Kapur (III)
From February 7th through March 6th, the Hostetter art gallery was home to the 22nd Annual Pingry Student Photography Exhibition. Over two hundred photographs were submitted, depicting the best work of students spanning fifteen different public and private high schools near Pingry. The judge of this year’s show was Peter Jennings, a photographer, director, and artist based in New York.
The work included both traditional, film-based photographs and digital prints. Many different tones and moods were represented, ranging from dark and mysterious to light and upbeat. The exhibit captured a range of unique perspectives about current events and everyday moments.
For example, Conor Mahoney (VI)’s photograph, titled “Anger Management,” features a fist punching into water, possibly symbolizing the need to release the stress and anger that high schoolers frequently experience. Additionally, “Cigarettes” by Remi Nichols from North Hunterdon High School was another standout work, featuring a jar full to the brim with cigarette stubs. It potentially speaks to the cost of smoking in society and how it must be controlled and contained to minimize the terrible health-related impact on future generations. Lastly, “Bliss,” a black-and-white photo by Arieliz Ramos from County Prep HS, featured two young girls laughing together, referencing the incomparable bond of friendship and the joy it brings between sisters, friends, and family.
For the observers of this exhibition, the experience of viewing and interpreting the photos was enthralling. Monica Chan (III) reflected on how “it was interesting to see how Pingry hosts different photographers and allows them to display their work.” An artist herself, Monica remarked that “she finds photography useful as a reference to use when drawing,” taking inspiration from the exhibit in that way.
Mr. Boyd reflected on how “this show provides an opportunity for Pingry students to get a snapshot of student photography in New Jersey.” He also spoke to how Hostetter has “allow[ed] Pingry to realize its full artistic expression.” With its constant variety of exhibitions, he advises Pingry students to visit the gallery often, saying how many students’ lives have been “forever changed by its exceptional vision.”
Visual Arts teacher Mrs. Jennifer Mack-Watkins also remarked that “the stories that these young artists are telling with their photographs have to do with common themes that teenagers go through,” and she has seen how enriching it is for other students to observe the work. Mrs. Mack Watkins views this exhibit as a “great way for students to connect with each other” overall.
The following Pingry students were featured in the 22nd Annual Pingry Student Photography Exhibition:
Brynn Weisholtz (IV), Grace Brown (V), Maddie Parrish (VI), Mitchell Pavlak (VI), Olivia Nugent (IV), Namita Davey (VI), Natalie Ladino (IV), Conor Mahoney (VI), Mariam Trichas (VI), Owen Wolfson (VI), Madeline Skapper (IV), Leighton Mayers (V), Maddie Massey (IV), Evan Taylor (V), Nicolette Brigante (IV), Noelle Mullins (IV), Peter Papadopoulos (IV), Ben Ingrassia (V), Ben Mandelbaum (V), Caroline Dannenbaum (IV), Annie Oatman (IV), Abby Jay (V), Tyler Williams (VI), Rita Harrobin (IV), Mercedes Garcka-Kenny (IV), Sophie Loesberg (VI), Aubrey Molloy (VI), Alli Simon (V), Ilana Lurie (VI), Ben Ramos (VI), Nicole Toney (V), Sidney Shannon (VI), Annie Smith (IV), Abby Beckmen (V), Zach Trichas (V), Ryan Geller (IV), Olivia James (V), Kamal Brown (V), George Mychajluk (VI), Lindsey Larson (VI), Alberto Choussy (V), Brian Benson (V), Hailey Cernuto (VI), Chase Barnes (V), Nikki Vanasse (IV), Jordan Taylor (VI), Sophia Weldon (VI), and Kassidy Peterson (VI).
By Udochi Emeghara (V)
On Monday, January 22, the Drama II class held their annual drama assembly showcasing the skills they have worked on throughout the year. This year, the class performed “Appropriate Audience Behavior” by Mr. Ian McWerthy. This play spoofs behaviors that are deemed unacceptable by the theatre community, such as eating during a show or speaking loudly during a production. While this play spans many topics, there were many parts that stood out. Highlights included Stuart Clark (IV) bringing spaghetti on stage and proceeding to eat it and laugh uncontrollably; James Raincsuk (IV) complaining about his tax dollars being spent on terrible chairs; Maddie Pilla (IV) ranting in annoyance at the actions of her peers; Corby Elliot (IV) cheering rambunctiously; Kelsey Ransom (IV) preaching pretentiously; and Helen Baeck-Hubloux (IV) melting down at the end of the play. These are just a few of the moments that made the show so spectacular. The commitment to the art of acting was impeccable and was clearly seen in Josh Thau (IV) and Jessica Hutt’s (IV) portrayals of old people and the way Alexandra Weber (IV), Amy Composto (IV), Julia Guagliardo (IV), and Sonia Talarek (IV) stayed in character throughout the show.
In spite of time constraints, the Drama II class put on a stellar performance. According to Mr. Alan Van Antwerp, the Drama II teacher, the group started rehearsing after winter break: this is customary as Mr. Albert Romano, the former Drama II teacher and head of the Drama department, had always followed this schedule. Since winter break started a week later this year than in the past, this left the Drama II students only five rehearsals to learn all their lines and stage the play.
As it was his first production, Mr. Van Antwerp described the process as nerve-wracking, especially when showing the work to his peers. Still, he said he was lucky to have such talented students who were able to pull off this production. In addition, Mr. Romano was in the audience and congratulated the Drama II students and Mr. Van Antwerp on a job well done. All in all, it is clear that this assembly was received well by the community and that the Drama II class has made the Arts Department very proud.
By Meghan Durkin ’21
On February 22, 23, and 24, Pingry’s Drama and Music Departments presented this year’s winter musical, The Addams Family, a quirky comedy written by Andrew Lippa. Following the members of the infamous clan known for their dark and twisted outlook on life, the musical takes place over one wacky night filled with exposed secrets and new revelations.
The plot focuses on what happens when Wednesday Addams (Dorothea Miller, V), the oldest child and only daughter of Gomez (Lucas Vazquez, V) and Morticia Addams (Isabel DeVito, V), finds love with a normal Ohioan named Lucas. When Lucas (Leo Zhu, V) and his parents come to the Addams’s house for what they believe will be a simple dinner, instead they experience an unusual night of bizarre family traditions and meddlesome potions.
When Wednesday decides to tell only her father of her recent engagement to Lucas, Gomez, as a loyal husband and father, struggles to keep this secret. At dinner, while playing the family’s time-honored game, “Full Disclosure,” in which everyone must confess an untold secret, Wednesday’s brother Pugsley Addams (Katerina Deliargyris, V), attempts to stop the marriage.
However, this plan goes awry. In a dramatic fashion, Morticia learns of their plan to wed. Both families in shambles, the lovers, both new and old, must learn to forgive and to find their way back to one another. As the musical progresses, viewers watch both Wednesday and Lucas, Morticia and Gomez, and Lucas’ parents, Mal (Andrew Cowen, V) and Alice (Maya Huffman, V) come to accept their differences and reaffirm their undying love for one another. The clan’s elders, hoping for love to triumph, cheer on the lovebirds throughout the show.
Director Mrs. Stephanie Romankow brought a creative, and spunky take to this twist on the classic family. When choosing this year’s musical, Romankow decided on The Addams Family because it “allowed all students to practice some acting, singing, and dancing,” while it “speaks to all types of love” as well as family life and forgiveness.
Proud to see everyone “coming together” and “collaborating,” Mrs. Romankow said that her favorite moments in the rehearsal process were when “two actors would find a moment when they connect dramatically.”
As the director, she was elated by the “giant puzzle” the students, teachers, and parents put together.
“It was an honor “to spend time with people who care about this musical,” she said.
To create a complex and beautiful set, Mrs. Jane Asch and Mr. Christopher Abbott worked long hours, along with students and parents. Mr. Alan Van Antwerp served as the lighting and technical director, while Dr. Andrew Moore, as the pit orchestra conductor, directed student musicians throughout the show. Stage managers for the musical included Allison Matthias (V), Udochi Emeghara (V), and Quarida Benatia (VI).
Like many of her fellow performers, Sydney Stovall (III), a student involved in the production, considered participating in The Addams Family an opportunity to explore “my talents and other people’s talents, and to venture outside my comfort zone.”
By Grace Wang (III)
During the week before Thanksgiving break, four of the school’s musical groups performed in this year’s Ensembles Concert. The concert consisted of the strings ensemble, the Buttondowns, the Balladeers, and the jazz band.
The concert took place in a transformed senior area, where the senior couches were replaced with chairs and benches for the audience. Faculty, friends, and family stood and sat from the library balconies all the way down to the senior area.
The strings ensemble set the tone for the concert, beginning with “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar with strings teacher Ms. Vera Izano playing alongside her middle and high school students. A few select students performed Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4, namely, Rebecca Lin (VI) and Felicia Ho (V) on the violin, Ethan Chung (VI) on the cello, and Ms. Izano and Jessica Li (VI) on the viola. The strings ensemble then finished off their performance with an arrangement of Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms, with Head of the Music Department Dr. Andrew Moore accompanying on the piano.
The strings ensemble was followed by a combined performance by the Balladeers and the Buttondowns. The two groups joined to sing a moving rendition of “Over the Rainbow” arranged by Mark Hayes and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” arranged by Kirby Shaw.
The Balladeers continued the performance, wearing their signature black dresses and purple sashes around their waists. The Balladeers’ performance was coordinated by music teacher Mr. Jay Winston. The a cappella group arranged themselves in a semi-circle and sang “The Sound of Silence” arranged by Balladeers president Maya Huffman (VI). Ashana Makhija (IV) sang the starting solo, and Nicole Gilbert (IV), Isabel Devito (V), and Anna Wood (VI) joined in with their own solos throughout the song. The Balladeers then sang “The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre and ended with “Fireflies,” also arranged by Maya Huffman, with soloist Nina Srikanth (IV).
Following the Balladeers, the Buttondowns continued the concert with the traditional Korean folk song “Arirang,” arranged by Brad Printz, with guest soloist Alyssa Chen (VI) on the flute. The group then took on the pop song “Just the Way You Are,” arranged by former Buttondown James Robertson ’17 and the current Buttondowns president Jonathan Huang (VI), with strong solo performances by Rajeev Doraswamy (V) and Ian Dugan (V). They then concluded their part of the concert with “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! At the Disco, arranged by Jonathan Huang, who also was the featured soloist. Alex Kaplan (III), Nolan Baynes (III), Ian Dugan (V) and others took on supporting parts in the song.
The performance concluded with the jazz band directed by music teacher Mr. Sean McAnally. The ensemble performed the songs “Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard, “Stop” arranged by Sean McAnally, and “Better Get It In Your Soul” by Charles Mingus, all of which frequently featured improvisations by different members of the group.
By Mariam Trichas ’18
On Tuesday, November 14th, the photography, portfolio, film, and drawing and painting classes visited the Chelsea Galleries in New York City for their annual gallery trip. They went to many different types of galleries, including ones that specialized in photography, painting, and abstract art, inspiring a variety of different reactions amongst the students.
One of the more abstract art galleries the students visited was the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which showcased Lee Krasner’s Umber Paintings. Many students commented that these paintings, which looked like random brush strokes, reminded them of Jackson Pollock’s paintings. They later learned that Lee Krasner was actually Jackson Pollock’s wife.
Another gallery had wooden floors and a variety of suspended sculptures, along with green fuzz-looking material; it looked like a forest of abstract art. Other interesting galleries included one in which there was a gigantic beard suspended in the air, another with a variety of rotating furniture items, and one in which there were photographs of crumpled pieces of paper.
“This was my second time going on the Chelsea trip, and even though we didn’t see as many galleries as last year due to a traffic jam that caused the buses to be delayed, it was still nice to walk around the city and see the variety of artwork,” said Jewell Strickland (VI) of the experience. “My favorite part was probably going to Eataly.” She added that her favorite gallery was the one with suspended sculptures that looked like a forest.
During the gallery trip, students were given the assignment of taking three photos of art that they liked, three they were confused by, and one they would “gift” to a friend.
After visiting different galleries for around two hours, the students then boarded their buses to Eataly NYC Flatiron, which is always one of the students’ favorite parts of the trip. There, they lined up at the variety of cafes and counters for pizza, pasta, and other Italian foods and desserts. At school the next day, the classes continued discussions about the gallery artwork as well as artwork they may have been confused by during their art classes.
Overall, the gallery trip to Chelsea was a success, much enjoyed by those who went.
By Eva Schiller ’21
On November 21, students and faculty members took a break from their busy school day to enjoy the Buttondowns Assembly, a highly anticipated annual event presented by the Buttondowns, Pingry’s all-male acapella group led by president Jonathan Huang (VI).
The annual Buttondowns movie opened the show. It was filmed by Ian Dugan (V) and sparked the laughter of many students. The movie’s theme was inspired by Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery, And Then There Were None. In the movie, the Buttondowns are eliminated one by one, starting with the freshmen. In a twist ending, it was revealed that the freshmen are the murderers, with the moral being to “never mess with freshmen.”
The movie ended with the tradition of the Buttondowns entering Hauser Auditorium to the song, “We Will Rock You,” dressed in the their recognizable outfits: khakis and white button-down shirts. They then began singing.
The first song they performed was “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, a popular group which features Chance the Rapper. The Buttondowns’ rendition featured soloists Nolan Baynes (III) and James Wang (IV).
“This solo was a perfect fit for me because ‘Sunday Candy’ is one of my favorite songs,” said Baynes, “and to perform it with one of my friends since sixth grade, James Wang, is a dream come true.” This song, along with others, was even more memorable as the soloists interacted with the audience, occasionally kneeling down and serenading audience members in aisle seats.
The next song was “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran, with soloists Ore Shote (III) and Jared Tiggs (VI). “Looking back on the assembly, there are things I would have done differently, but I think that everything went better than was planned,” said Shote of the performance.
“Give Me Love” was followed by “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel, with soloists Rajeev Doraswamy (V) and Ian Dugan (V). After the song, the Buttondowns underclassmen thanked president Jonathan Huang for his contributions to the group. Huang soloed in the final song, “The Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! At the Disco, to end the assembly.
Reminiscing on his years as a Buttondown, Huang had much to say. After the assembly, he said, “As far as today’s performance, I went through many different emotions. I felt a rush of excitement running onto stage, and it was bittersweet singing the last lines of ‘Death of a Bachelor.’ To the Pingry community: Thank you for being a part of my most special moments at Pingry. I love all of you.”
Huang also thanked Dr. Moore “for being the backbone of the group. None of the music would have been made without his endless guidance and support.”
He also noted that “The time Ian Dugan spent on shooting and editing the movie is unbelievable, and I am very grateful for his amazing work.”
The Buttondowns received fullhearted support and positive feedback from the Pingry community both during and after their performance. “The audience was incredible, and all the Buttondowns felt wonderful hearing the applause and kind words after the performance,” said Huang.