Blithe Spirit!

As we enter into spring, the Apopka Drama Department begins preparing for its spring show. This year their spring show is Blithe Spirit, which involves love, comedy, and spirituality. Every year the Apopka Drama Department puts on two main production shows, one in the fall and one in the spring. The Apopka Drama Department also does a few other productions, such as Hoka Ha! An Improv Comedy Show, and recently the department has been working on One-Acts. After the fall production of 12 Angry Jurors, the cast and crew have much higher expectations for Blithe Spirit. Mr. Morphew, the theatre director and theater teacher here at APK shared his expectations for Blithe Spirit by saying, “I always have high expectations of our drama program shows at Apopka High. The fact that our students are really learning through hands-on experience (many of them, for the first time) is extremely rewarding. Our drama students have high expectations of their own work, individually and as a cast/crew, and each is motivated as well as holding each other accountable for the best show possible.” Morphew also mentioned an increase of turnouts at productions, as the number of people who come see the shows seems to be “steadily growing over the last few years.” This is exciting for the department, as they are picking up after COVID. Although it may just be based on who is in the show, the Apopka Drama Department appreciates those who make the time to see the incredible productions put on in our school auditorium.

There are many different levels to making a production. You have everything from building the set to getting the actors on stage show night. Starting with the most superficial level that everyone knows and loves, let’s talk about the actors. Aidan Pickard, a Senior here at APK, earned the honor of the main role as Charles Condomine, the husband of Ruth Condomine and first wife Elvira (who is deceased). Aidan shared his challenges of preparing for this show as an actor, mentioning the memorization of lines and “getting the accent down,” as this show requires the actors to speak in an English accent due to the setting of the play being in England. Aidan was also in the fall show 12 Angry Jurors, he compared Blithe Spirit to 12 Angry Jurors claiming, “[Blithe Spirit] is much easier than 12 Angry Jurors. We have more time to prepare, fewer people in the cast, it’s more enjoyable, and we don’t just sit around the entire time.” Unlike 12 Angry Jurors, Blithe Spirit consists of a lot more movement and involvement from the actors. Anna Bryant, a Junior here at APK, plays Edith. Edith is the maid of the Condomine house. Anna has been in majority of productions here at Apopka, including 12 Angry Jurors. She explained how much easier Blithe Spirit has been as she “went from one of the lead roles to arguably the smallest role. The lines are shorter which makes it less stressful. Also, this play has a lot more movement than 12 Angry Jurors and has a significantly smaller cast, which are both big pluses.” Anna had encountered some of her own challenges other than lines, “There were some complications with the set in the beginning, so figuring out blocking at the start was a challenge. My character specifically has a lot of entrances and exits, so trying to map those out without a set was difficult.”

Aidan Pickard reads through his script

There are very high expectations for the show from the cast and crew. There are expected to be many cool effects from backstage that’ll make the audience feel as if they are a part of the performance. The goal of the Apopka Drama Department is to not only entertain but to ensure the audience feels drawn into the performance and engaged in the story being presented on the wonderful stage. Mr. Morphew spilled a little bit about what to expect from this show when it comes to tech: “Our lighting department, under the design of technical theatre student Brooke Ripley, will be incorporating a very vivid light show at varying points throughout the story. I will tell you that there is a ‘FLASH WARNING’ for this play. That means that there will be strobing lighting effects taking place during the show. Anyone whose health may be affected by this type of lighting, please be warned that this will be taking place and take the appropriate action to ensure your or others’ safety.” Morphew didn’t spill too much about the show, as they want the element of surprise to be present for the audience to keep the audience engaged.

Brooke Ripley, a Junior here at APK and head of the lighting department, shared her crew’s preparation for the show, “My department is prepared, we have set up many spotlights and have lit many areas of the stage. I have most of my cues done and am just waiting to finish them up this Saturday.” Of course, there were many challenges technically preparing for the show. Mr. Morphew helped the set department in the construction of the set, he faced some challenges in this department saying: “One aspect that usually takes the most attention is the set. When designing a set, an OCPS drama teacher must sketch a blueprint/draft of the set, submit that to Risk Management at the downtown OCPS building, teach students how to use tools/build a set piece by piece, schedule an engineer to come out and inspect the scenery for approval, after which the local Fire Marshal come out and inspect the set for approval before you are permitted to actually use it for your performance.” Brooke had her fair share of challenges, as well. She mentioned facing setbacks from other performing arts groups due to this, “[the] set couldn’t be put up and we now have to try and light the set as soon as possible. However, my team works fast and we are almost done lighting the set and it will be done in time.”

Some other department heads include Junior Makalynn Prince, head of props. She ensures everything carried or used by an actor is in its proper place during the show and she is in charge of the designs prior to show night. They also have Junior Aniiya Smith as the head of costumes and Junior Kaciana Lynch as head of hair/makeup. They also work hard to design how the characters will be presented on stage. Lastly, Junior Kaitlyn Collins is the head of sound for the production. She runs every song and sound effect heard by the audience. Many important technical aspects go into the magic behind what you see lit on stage.

Actors Vladimir Boevers, Anna Bryant, and Anna LaMay read through their scripts.

Many may not be familiar with Blithe Spirit. Originally a play, it was also made into a movie in 1945 before eventually being remade recently in 2020. For a quick run down, the play is set in 1930s England. There is a novelist by the name of Charles Condomine, who is re-married but haunted by the ghost of his first wife. Throughout the play, there are seances, love triangles, and of course, a good laugh. Mr. Morphew recommends you come out and see the show, “Our production of Blithe Spirit has a nice blend of being a dramatic and comedic play. While it is dubbed as a farcical piece, there are meaningful relationships taking place that reflect real-life issues. The comedic timing of our cast members makes for witty laughs, and our tech students and crew have created a truly wonderful piece of theatre.” The dates to see the show are April 6th and 7th. Everyone should definitely come out and support our Apopka Drama Department to be absorbed in this wonderful performance they have put together. Tickets can be bought using the link below.

Blithe Spirit poster made by Junior Kate Spencer