NPHS Drama Club presents Bethel Park Falls November 10-12

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New Paltz High School will present Bethel Park Falls November 10-12. From left to right: Nicholas Kutzin, Ana Kirsch, Julia Demskie, Julia Crofton, Jenna Triguero and Peter Dillehay. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

This weekend, for the first time since 2019, New Paltz High School students will be able to perform their traditional fall semester non-musical play with bare faces (if you don’t count stage makeup as wearing something) . “Children have commented on how good it is not to be masked, not to have to keep six feet away. They’re happy to do it,” says Nancy Owen, Drama Club Advisor and Director of Bethel Park Falls.

The play is a contemporary drama by Connecticut-based playwright Jason Pizzarello, who also wrote one of the sketches in the comedy anthology that high school students performed in fall 2021, Alibis. And it’s an especially timely topic for a quaint little town that’s under pressure to build more housing, since the premise of Bethel Park Falls is that a heavily used community park has been sold to a large corporation for commercial development. “Residents are facing a crisis,” says ENSP junior Nicholas Kutzin. “The park everyone loves is being torn down by the city.”

Kutzin, who coincidentally has a real-life twin, plays two characters in the play: Dusty, a homeless guitarist with mental health issues, and his identical twin Cliff, a successful businessman whom Dusty didn’t have. not seen for years. The nine vignettes of Bethel Park Falls are structured around encounters in the park between pairs of people whose lives intersect in multiple ways. “They all have an impact on each other,” says junior Kari O’Brien, who plays April, “a studious person who is really focused on school” and “dislikes nature,” but goes out. with someone more outdoors.

In this play, says junior Willa Voorhis, “Each person has a struggle, but they are not judged by the person they are with; they all have empathy. Voorhis’ character, Dawn, is a serious racer who is “awkwardly in love” with another racer who regularly uses the park: Sonny, played by Marco Todaro. The two have yet to pair up, but surreptitiously check each other out by running and stretching. “They stalk each other a bit,” Voorhis says.

The play opens with June, a blind birdwatcher played by Julia Demskie, recording bird calls to use in her activism to keep the community park open. Senior Julia Crofton plays Fern, a retired employee who has Alzheimer’s disease and wanders the park reading poetry. “My character brings the seasons and has a little moment with each character,” Crofton explains. Indeed, the rapid passage of the seasons serves as something of a magical metaphor in the play, the action of which ostensibly takes place in a single day at various locations in the park.

Some of the characters are married couples, but their personal dramas also overlap with other Bethel residents. Marla May Feeney plays Brooke, who works for M Corp, the company shutting down the park, and Ryan Hyland plays her husband Glenn, a sleep-deprived father of two. Max Reinking plays Reed, a long-absent soldier. In her first ENSP role, ninth-grader Abbie Adams plays Lily, Reed’s wife, a cop on maternity leave who bonds with Glenn over parenting strategies.

Eamonn Rynne plays Clay, the mayor tasked with letting M Corp take over the park, who had an affair with Brooke. Veda Keon plays Clay’s wife, Holly, a teacher who expelled Gaia, one of her students, for cheating. Played by senior Jenna Triguero, despondent immigrant daughter Gaia crosses paths with hopeless fisherman Ash, played by junior Peter Dillehay. Rounding out the cast are junior Ana Kirsch as Hazel, “a job-losing ranger” who arrested Dusty, and Finnian Lochard as Garnet, an actuary whose “job is basically to overthinking”.

“It’s interesting how this unique place can affect so many people in different ways,” says Dillehay. Or, as the play’s official synopsis puts it, “Bethel Park Falls brings together a complex, fascinating and fun group of people in a poignant story about the spaces where communities connect.

Bethel Park Falls will be played in the New Paltz High School Auditorium at 130 South Putt Corners Road at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, November 10, 11, and 12. Tickets are general admission and will be sold at the door for $10 for students and seniors. citizens and $12 for adults (cash or check only). In keeping with the longstanding tradition of the NPHS Drama Club, Owen will announce the musical the students will perform next spring at the end of opening night this Thursday.

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