After suspension, middle school play ‘Flapper’ set to hit the
Gilroy – Out of the darkness comes a flash of sparkle and feathers. Metal heels click from the corners. The faint smell of fresh paint hangs in the air. Suddenly, the lights snap on and fluorescent fringe takes on a life of its own during a tap number in “Flapper” – the school district’s second annual middle school play.
“When the lights come on … they get all excited,” said producer Zoi Gonzalez–Alvarez about the 43 students preparing for opening night Friday. “It manages to come together.”
Tuesday’s evening’s dress rehearsal was riddled with forgotten lines, sound checks and characters giggling through dance routines – but what was more apparent was their enthusiasm for the performance – especially because it almost never happened.
“Flapper” was originally being directed by Rucker Elementary theater instructor Pepe Espinosa and Gonzalez–Alvarez who had previously worked together on the first middle school play, “Rock Around the Block.”
Espinosa left the performance for personal reasons, Gonzalez–Alvarez said.
After more than 60 hours of rehearsals “Flapper” was suspended right before spring break in March. The announcement came by mail for the parents of students participating and on the Gilroy Unified School District’s Web site leaving 54 students all dressed up with nothing to perform.
“During break I was very stressed out because I thought the show wasn’t going to go on,” said 11–year-old Chelsea Burns who plays the lead character Polly Pepper. “I had been waiting my whole life for the lead role and then it finally happened.”
The middle school play is an opportunity for students across the district to participate in a theater production as actors, technicians and set designers and put on by the Gilroy Middle School Performing Arts.
Students who don’t ordinarily attend the same school, practiced together two to three times a week for two months, memorizing their lines and perfecting dance routines for opening night until word came that the play was on hold.
“I knew it would come back – no matter what,” said William Hoshida who is taking the good guy/bad guy theme to the next level. He plays two characters, the male lead Buck, and a conman named Duke.
Hoshida practiced throughout the month break.
“I didn’t want to just forget all the work we’ve done,” he explained.
April 7 the district sent letters home to the “Flapper” participants announcing that the rehearsals would resume on the 12th under new direction.
Dennis Beasley, a 1999 Gilroy High School graduate, replaced Espinosa as director, and Gonzalez became the producer.
“This is my first time working with Dennis,” Gonzalez–Alvarez said. “He’s very to the point and gets things done.”
Beasley directed GHS’ senior play, which returned this past spring after a four–year absence.
And Beasley is no nonsense.
“He’s very professional,” Burns said. “He cares about his cast and it shows.”
Beasley was everywhere Tuesday: Backstage, in the technician room, in the audience.
“Don’t break curtain – ever,” he told the actors prior to the start of Tuesday’s rehearsal. “Just don’t do it.”
The action on-stage is more important to him than anything else, Gonzalez–Alvarez said.
After the reinstatement of “Flapper,” 43 students returned – many a little rusty from the break.
“I forgot some of my lines,” said Molly Goldsmith, a seventh grader at Ascension Solorsano who plays a dance instructor named Miss Morris.
Rehearsals were held until 8:30pm to make up for the lost time.
“We have a lot of characters who are double cast,” Gonzalez–Alvarez said.
Parents have been involved from the beginning, offering to sew costumes and choreograph dance routines. Many were on hand Tuesday doing last minute make up and costume touches.
During the break, Goldsmith helped her mother Kathleen sew costumes for the cast.
“I kind of had a feeling we would continue,” Goldsmith said. “I didn’t think for all the work we did they’d call it off.”
“Flapper” hits the GHS stage one month after originally planned.
“I’m glad Dennis came on board and the play could go on,” Gonzalez–Alvarez said. “Because that’s what’s important – the kids.”