MSD drama department works behind the scenes to produce their ‘Head Over Heels’ show

Julia Landy

Jasmine Bhogaita, News Editor

A gentle melody fills the auditorium as the audience hushes to a silence. The curtains rise, displaying actors on stage dressed in elaborate costumes before decorative scenery. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s drama department performed to impress the audience with their production of “Head Over Heels.” Behind the scenes, however, many preparations, unseen by spectators, were made in order to produce the show.

Douglas Drama first announced their plans to perform “Head Over Heels,” at their theater banquet back in May 2022. The publicity team promotes the performance using a collection of strategies. A group of seniors, consisting of Ashley Fronstin, Logan LaPierre and Nick Bedusa, advertised the show to spectators on the official drama Instagram account, @douglasdrama, by making playbills, designing posters and creating merchandise. Their work has won a Cappie award, which recognizes high school students in theater and journalism.

Before the drama department began show preparations, drama director Melody Herzfeld first decided on a play. To pick their annual musical, Herzfeld looks for shows that highlight the student actors’ talent and capabilities, such as singing, dancing and performing.

My favorite part of working behind the scenes is being able to watch the show while also being a part of it. I love going to rehearsals and I genuinely love doing sound and being behind the scenes.”

— Technical Sound Director Belinda Silva Beuke

“Head Over Heels” is an adaptation of Sir Philip Sidney’s “The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia,” which was adapted for the stage by James Magruder. The music in the show was written by The Go-Go’s. The play follows a royal family who is trying to save their kingdom from an oracle of doom and destruction. Along the way, the family learns life lessons of self-discovery and love.

Auditions took place during the week of Aug. 16. The directors of the show then held callbacks for students who put on notable performances, before deciding on the final cast list. The crew then worked toward establishing theatrics and effects for the performance and costume designers cut fabrics into unique outfits for each character.

Practice Makes Perfect. Drama club members meet in Drama teacher Melody Herzfeld’s room in preparation for their upcoming show. Students learned new songs at the practice from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. (Miguel Garcia)

“Our shows are done almost entirely by students, from sound to lighting and music to choreography,” sophomore Melissa Azzarito said. “Mrs. Herzfeld helps out with directing and guiding the students’ work.”

The music for the performance is mixed by students in the drama club. From the set designs to the lighting, stage hands craft the scenes of the performance from scratch. Their goal is to ensure the show runs smoothly and keeps the audience entertained.

“There’s a lot of aspects that go into it and every department has a different job,” Assistant Stage Manager Christina Garofalo said. “I write down every cue, like lighting, sound and props, and all of the blocking, which is stage directions for the actors including when they enter and exit the stage and from which side of the stage. During the show, I help anyone who needs help with props, quick changes with costumes, rails and generally just make sure everything is running smoothly.”

“Head Over Heels” was performed on both March 9 and March 10 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. Tickets were available for purchase online for $15.

This story was originally published in the March 2023 Eagle Eye print edition.