By Alvin Paul and Varun Pillai
On November 17 and 18, the Drama Club and stage crew performed "Tales of the Lost Formicans." This play recounts the life of a man with Alzheimer's and his family, while also morphing into an alien’s guide to Earth.
The story revolves around the McKissick family and the lives of those surrounding them that are changed drastically after the elderly Jim McKissick’s (Andrew Canese) dementia began to take effect. Evelyn McKissick (Debarati Chowdhury), Jim’s wife, becomes more and more distraught as she tries to deal with Jim’s recurring and worsening onsets of dementia. Cathy McKissick (Ishita Bansal) and Erica McKissick (Caleigh Grima) move in with Jim and Evelyn after Cathy’s divorce. Cathy is left to deal with her dad's worsening condition, handle her daughter's rebellious outbursts and occasionally help out Judy (Theodora Doukas/Sarah Munson), one of her neighborhood acquaintances with her own set of problems. Not only are aliens narrating the story, they also influence what happens. As a result, there are numerous abductions and alterations occurring. Although most of the characters are impervious to this, one of them does “notice,” namely Jerry (Louis Masi/Ryan Guerrero), who comes off as strange and conspiratorial at first, ultimately proves prophetic.
Source by Alvin Paul
“The play was wonderfully executed and very entertaining. The ending was shocking, and it took me a minute to understand what was happening, but once I fully grasped the ending, I realized how good it was," junior Georgina Lenore said.
The show was received well, with many spectators having very positive opinions about the direction the play was taken in.
"The characters were developed very well by the end of the play, and I truly felt for each character. I was able to truly connect to them by the end of the play,” Lenore said. “There were two scenes that stood out to me and for two completely different reasons. The first scene was the abduction scene because of how chaotic and interesting the scene was—the lights, the smoke and screaming—it was just so crazy and in the best way possible. The second scene was the ‘You Are My Sunshine’ scene. This scene was heartfelt and that it’s just a song that I love from my childhood, which is why I enjoyed it so much. I also like how there was an alien in this scene playing the guitar in the background. It gave the scene a comedic element that I really enjoyed.”
Director Gary Ferrar dove into why he chose this work as his last play.
“I had read it in college, and it had always stayed in my mind as a super weird but very memorable play, and it’s challenging to do at the high school level, but I don’t know when I’m going to get the chance to direct another fully fledged production, and I didn't want to let it go without doing that one,” said director Mr. Ferrar.
“The sound design and visual effects enhanced this play and made it much more interesting and more understandable,” Lenore said. “The scenes where the visual effects were strong made me feel like I was in the scene with the characters. The contrast between sound effects truly made the play dynamic and allowed me to become immersed into the play. I enjoyed the times where there were visual effects because it was very fun, and at times, these visual effects made it easier to follow the play.”
Many of the traditional facets of drama and stage crew had to be reworked in order to accommodate for the play and its differences.
“There was more focus on the light and sound aspect of the play rather than moving scenes, which was a bit of a change, but we made it work with our older crew members helping the younger ones on the lighting and sound boards. It really brought out the teamwork we always try to have,” senior Simrit Kaur said.
Source by Alvin Paul
Director Gary Ferrar and members of the stage crew work hard with the meticulous light and sound effect throughout the play.
Additionally, the nature of the play posed challenges to the cast, especially in regards to their methods of learning and embracing their roles.
“Cathy McKissick had me memorizing the most lines and blocking I have had for a stage play. I really had to concentrate on why every word needed to be said because I couldn't fall back on song or dance or humor. For this production, I focused on the character first and foremost, not the general play, which was hard but so rewarding,” senior Ishita Bansal said.
“Tales of the Lost Formicans” was Mr. Ferrar’s last play at New Hyde Park, with this spring's musical serving as his last overall production at the school. However, despite his moving on, he has high hopes for the future of NHP theater.
“I would love to see it continue to grow, and I’m excited to have someone else come in and think of things that I haven’t thought of yet with ways to improve it. After 10 years, it becomes harder to think objectively, and I think having new people can help with that,” said Mr. Ferrar.
“It has been such a pleasure working with Mr. Ferrar over the last six years. His work with the Theatre Club really sparked my love for theater and led me to want to pursue more of it, even after high school. I hope that after he leaves, students in the Theatre Club still find that joy in performing. Mr. Ferrar has been an absolute blessing to have teach and work with us, and I will look fondly upon his past years here at NHP,” Bansal said.
“Mr. Ferrar is the heart and soul of the Theater Club, to the point where I can’t even really imagine what it will be like without him there,” junior Bobby Kuskowski said. “I joined in seventh grade, and now I’m a junior, and I’ve been here for four years, coming up on five really soon. I’ve grown up with the club and it’s very close to me. It’s sad to see him go because he is in the theater club to some degree. He also works like crazy to make the shows the best that they can be, and we rely on him a lot of the time. Plus, I’ve known him for so long that it’s going to be sad to see him go, but everything ends eventually, and it was so much fun while it lasted. My main worry is whoever the director will be after him, because it’s going to be difficult to fill those humongous shoes and they will, without a doubt, be compared to him all the time.”