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NHS troupe restages 'Addams Family' as showcase musical at state thespian conference in Salem

SETH GORDON - After being selected to be the showcase musical at the Oregon Thespians State Conference, the Newberg High School theater troupe performs 'The Addams Family' in front of approximately 1,300 fellow students April 6 at the Elsinore Theater in Salem.

SALEM -- After putting everything it could into its run of "The Addams Family" and actually being selected to perform as the showcase musical at the Oregon State Thespian Conference, the expectations were through the roof for the Newberg High School theater troupe.

Sure the pressure to put on a great show was certainly higher for the students, but it was more so the hype and the anticipation of getting to perform in the historic Elsinore Theater in front of an enthusiastic audience of 1,300 of their theater peers that increased the stress.

So it was asking a lot for the troupe to put its best foot forward and also have the experience to live up to its billing as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. By all accounts, though, both delivered on the night of April 6.

"That first applause after our opening scene, it felt like a rock concert," senior Camryn Shulz said. "It felt like your whole body shook with the applause. It was really incredible."

Not only did the actors feed off of the ample energy, but it was a new feeling to have the audience not only get every joke, but pick up on the smallest of details.

"It's just such an incredible feeling because you're performing in front of basically 1,300 versions of you," senior Tiffany Harrold said. "They're just as enthusiastic about theater as you are, so you get this crazed reaction to just the littlest things. It was such an amazing feeling."

Fittingly, the experience of putting on the show was just as thrilling and rewarding for the rest of the troupe as it was for the actors.

Take lighting director Camille Modjeski or student director Jessica Samples, for example. Both were stressed to the max to translate the production from their home theater in the Drea Ferguson Auditorium at NHS to the confined space at the Elsinore. SETH GORDON - Wednesday (Hannah Sapitan) tortures her brother, Pugsley (Matt Goodbaudy), much to his delight.

Modjeski spent all afternoon patching the school's lightboard into Elsinore's system, while Samples was putting out fires, but once the show started it was a new experience for both because the control booth at the Elsinore is located on the main floor amid the audience. Normally they're sequestered behind glass and above the audience at NHS.

"If they're cheering, you're cheering, too," Modjeski said. "It was just so much more involved. I even had people come up to me at intermission asking me about the cues and how I did certain scenes. That was probably one of my favorite parts, having the booth in the audience."

The tech crew, working under senior Nicholas Broce, had to significantly shrink the size of the set to fit the smaller stage, which also features little offstage space on either side and dressing rooms underneath the stage-accessible stairways on three sides.

Broce said he chose to approach it like an once-in-a-lifetime event simply because it was and said that things went smoothly after getting through the first few scene changes.

"It was also kind of weird to think that was the last time I would be in that space as a thespian was giving this performance for so many people, so many fellow thespians," Broce said. "It was pretty cool."

Senior Hannah Sapitan actually performed on the stage twice that day. Because she was selected as one of the top three performers in the state for her musical theater solo performance, she took part in the individual thespian showcase in the morning, too, singing "Waiting for Life" from the musical "Once on This Island."

After the final curtain, the emotions of having pulled it off hit the whole troupe, bringing on a torrent of tears even though the cast still had to return to the stage to take bows.

"It still kind of feels like a dream," senior Molly Cox said. "I had dreams about it, so it was a literal dream come true."

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