41 years and still going strong, the Carlisle 7th grade play

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DRESS REHEARSAL. Carlisle seventh-graders practice prior to opening night on March 15. Left to right are: Phoebe Rodgers (Princess Winnifred), Isabella DiRocco (Lady Larken), P.J. Balazy (Lady Rowena) and Tara Best (Lady Lucille). (Courtesy photo)

Carlisle, like many towns, is special because of its annual traditions. The 7th-grade play is one of these traditions which everyone loves to see, even if there are no longer pre-teens or teenagers in their home. This year’s production is Once Upon a Mattress,  which is an adaptation of the Princess and the Pea fairy tale. The story involves a king and queen, prince and princess and a very wicked witch. In the end, love prevails and the young royalty are able to live a happy life together. This tale is fantastically brought to life by the seventh-grade class. 

Emily DeRicco, one of the producers, said, “I love this Carlisle tradition. It provides a tremendous unique opportunity for all seventh graders to work together as one whole unit.” She continued on to mention that the play continued on, saying that the play was chosen to mirror the personality of the class. This year’s class as a whole has a great sense of humor and they are a collaborative bunch. The class consists of approximately 70 students, most of whom are part of the play. The students are not only actors in the play, but they also take on the hands-on roles of set building and set design. Students also collaborate on tech support roles, including lighting and sound engineering.  They labor on the program, costumes, prop construction and even work through logistics regarding ticketing and seating for the performance. 

Another consistent fact is the support from the parents and community members. Artistry abounds in the form of set design and creation. The very talented Emily Stewart is the set artist. She has created the drawings for the artistic set. The view of the castle looking out into the world was masterminded by Sandy Eisenbies, who also helped build this three-dimensional view. Costume support was provided by Jenn Albanese, who has children who are no longer middle-school-aged, but nevertheless she volunteered to make the costumes, a feat not as easy as it sounds. Linda Tonies also knew what it took to put together 35 costumes; she jumped in to help out. The love felt from the community is strong for this performance; these people bring expertise from their past experiences: many of them have gone through this with their children. It is a wonderful example of passing the love forward. 

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The cast at dress rehearsal for Once Upon a Mattress. (Courtesy photo)

Finally, the directors and producers are the spokes that enable the wheel to turn smoothly. “Director Linda St. Frances speaks to the kids from her heart; she believes in these students and sees their pride when they get it. She is the heart of this performance,” says DeRicco. The other producers who work tirelessly for the performance are Peter Gambino, Azra Cosic and Peter Best. The choreographer is Kendra Thyne. She worked to weave the dance and song seamlessly into the performance. 

All in all, this is about having the opportunity for young students to pull it together and perform a fairy tale, live. To purchase tickets, there are a few options. You can purchase them from any seventh grader, at Ferns or online https://www.ticketstage.com/CARLISLEPTO or at the door. The performances are at the Corey Auditorium on Friday, March 15, at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 16, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 17, at 2 p.m. 

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 Kian Amouzgar (left), a knight, waits before the show with Sam Adams, the wizard. (Courtesy photo)  Getting ready before the show are (front to back) PJ Balazy who plays Lady Lucille, Lydia Karle who is a Lady in Waiting, and Kendra Thyne who is the choreographer and assistant stage director. (Courtesy photo)


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FINISHING TOUCHES. Parent-producer Emily DiRocco assists her daughter Charlotte with her hairdo. Charlotte is a featured dancer/lady in waiting  (Courtesy photo) PEAR-SHAPED TONES. The ensemble warms up on stage prior to the rehearsal. (Courtesy photo)