Drama production soars to new heights


The entire cast lines up to take a final bow on closing night of their production, “In the Heights.” The show was sold out as all of Monte Vista’s arts programs contributed.

Lauren Edelman and Mikayla Flores, News Editor and Op/Ed Editor

If you haven’t had “Come see the show!” shouted at you at one point or another while you were inside a hallway, classroom, or while going to the bathroom, then you most likely are not a student at Monte Vista.

Four of Monte Vista’s art programs – drama, choir, dance, and band – devoted hours after school and during the weekends to combine their talents into one major theatre production.
This play, “In the Heights”, was written by Lin Manuel Miranda, a man who is more famous among high school students as the writer and lead actor of Hamilton.  “In the Heights,” looks at the lives of Latinos living in a New York neighborhood called Washington Heights over a three-day period in July.  The show depicts their hardships, how they live on a day-to-day basis, and struggle to find themselves. Specifically, the story revolves around a shop owner, Usnavi, and his love interest, Vanessa, and the Rosario family’s daughter, Nina, who is in love with their employee Benny while trying to afford Stanford tuition. Opening night was Wednesday, February 28, and the closing night was Saturday, March 3.

The Drama class aims to put on several plays throughout the year. For the students who want to star in the productions, they can audition for Play Productions. Once in Play Production, students are able to audition for roles in the plays Drama puts on. However, this recent musical was unique because all students in Monte Vista had the opportunity to audition. Many people who performed in the musical were from the top choir class, Chambers.

After the last production, Drama officers voted on the next production.  Senior and Drama officer Megan Chuah explains the role of being an officer.

“This show was a lot to take on, being a Drama Club officer. I had the privilege of being able to choose the show,” Chuah said. “It was a long debate about how rigorous it was and we all were scared but willing to take on the challenge.”

While the musical was only two hours long, the work that went into it took hours during the weekend. The class began brainstorming and planning the set in November, after the end of the Fall show. Paulina Fisher is a senior who is the head of the set-building committee.

“This set was really intricate,” Fisher said. “We had to make it look like a city, so two story buildings were necessary. The most challenging part was making a fire escape so that two actors could sit on top of it…and it had to be stable. It wasn’t super complex, but it made us always just a little on edge.”

Natalie Couture is a senior in Play Productions. She played the role of Daniela, a hairdresser living in Washington heights.

“The hardest part about this show was its size,” Couture said. “It’s easily the biggest show we’ve ever put on and contains more singing than any other musical we’ve done.”

Couture also put a lot of work into the set, and helped build the fire escape the actors sat on top of. She explained how the drama classes divide up the work to build such a complex set.

“We have a designated group in stage crafts that essentially is there to design and take lead in building the set,” Couture said. The rest of the stage crafts class and the cast of the production then come in on workdays or after school and we all work on building the set together, often dividing up to work in multiple smaller groups.”

Couture helped Fisher put in work on the fire escape, and felt a lot of pressure about its structure and stability.

“Just know that I was crossing my fingers backstage every time Peter Eidler and Natalie Haberstroh sat on the fire escape and hoped it wouldn’t fall down,” Couture said.

Senior Courtney Dowling comments on the work of Couture and Fisher.

“The show was rather wonderful,” Dowling said. “It’s definitely the most complex set we’ve ever done. It’s genuinely insane and Paulina and Natalie were basically all of it.”

Additionally, Dowling was the head of costume design and had to get creative with the apparel and her budgetary limitations.

“This [production] was different because it’s modern and it’s not as hard to find stuff,” Dowling said. “But the cast was significantly larger since we went from a 20 person cast to a 60 person cast – so that’s kinda insane. And my budget went from $1,500 to $400.”

Drama put tireless effort into the production and they were overjoyed that the success was worth the hard work.

“The message in the show is also incredible as it emphasizes a modern problem, of people who have different backgrounds and cultures trying to find their way and trying to understand what it means to be Latino whilst in America,” Chuah said. “This show required 13 hour workdays and a lot of yelling, but in the end, the most important part is to realize how far we have come and how to really drive the message of the show home in a way that will leave with the audience.”