A&E: Bosco Theater Opens the Year Strong with a Thrilling Performance of “Hands on a Hard Body”

by Brett Baligad

Following two years of COVID-19, St. John Bosco’s Theater Department hosted its first plays of the year last weekend, with more to come this weekend.

The Braves’ Theater Department kicked off the winter season with three productions of the musical “Hands On a Hard Body.”

Directed by Mr. Martin Lang, the story takes place in East Texas, as a small-town Nissan dealership hosts an annual car contest. The story follows a cast of ten Texans who learned what the prize truck really means to them. Over the course of the play, the audience sat at the edge of their seats wondering who will come out on top. The play featured plenty of catchy rock-n-roll, country and gospel scores for everyone to enjoy. On opening night, the nearly sold-out crowd stood in ovation as a musical encore concluded the heartfelt play.

“I was super excited to see the play. I haven’t seen one in person since my sophomore year. I thought it was really well done and I was happy to support the cast,” said senior and opening night viewer Kaimana Storch ‘21.

The first performance was on Friday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. The cast was greeted by a filled crowd with students, family, friends and faculty. Alumni, such as principal Dr. Anderson ’04 and history teacher Mr. Cordero ‘97, even made an appearance on Friday. Following this successful opening night were two more performances on Saturday and Sunday evening.

The emotional and passionate performance featured St. John Bosco and St. Joseph students. Remarkably, the cast featured many first-time performers. This included lead roles junior Connor Sheehan, senior Zachary Gillett and Brianna Golani, just to name a few. 

Junior, Connor Sheehan, took on the largest and most impactful role as a newcomer. 

“Seeing my friends and family come out to support me was both exciting and anxiety-inducing. With it being my first role and the magnitude of the role, I didn’t want to disappoint. I hope I didn’t,” said Sheehan.

With these new faces to the scene, there were many bumps in the road to reach their success. This included the early learning curve to singing. 

“Some people (new coming performers) were pros, and some had never sung before in their entire life,” said Mr. Lang.

St. John Bosco hosts two plays a year, one being a musical while the other being a non-musical. As Bosco featured constant choreography and witty lyrics, the cast flexed a variety of early talent when it came to singing. By opening night, however, the chemistry and confidence between the performers shined through as demonstrated by the recognition within the crowd.

Another challenge within the program is COVID-19. The Visual and Performing Arts program, along with the whole student body, were waiting for the theater’s comeback all school year. The crowd’s enthusiasm was present as this was Bosco’s first play with a full crowd in over two years. 

“There’s no other feeling greater than performing for people and telling a story in person. Getting those live reactions helps make the story feel more real and sends an overall stronger message,” said junior Kriss Valente. 

The cast was also eager to perform in front of a live audience. Even some members that were considered veterans to the program, such as junior Alex Palmer, had never performed in front of such a large audience because of the pandemic.

Mr. Lang claimed that Bosco’s virtual production of the musical “Working” from earlier this year was very different as it featured even higher COVID-19 restrictions within the production. These restrictions included choosing a play with a smaller cast, constant COVID-19 tests and a heavily limited audience. Due to contact tracing within the production, Mr. Lang himself had to perform a lead role in order to keep the show running. These off-the-cuff adaptations are what made this past weekend’s production more memorable to the program.

As the first semester comes to a close, the theater department will perform three more times this upcoming weekend. This includes a Friday and Saturday night performance at 7:30, along with a closing Sunday night performance at 6:30. Following this upcoming weekend, St. John Bosco’s Theater Department will take a much-deserved break heading into the winter vacation. The unannounced spring play will premiere in April. 

“We want everyone in our school to be involved in something, and why not be a part of something that is creative, exciting, fun, and a way to express yourself,” said Mr. Lang 

The theater department welcomes all of the Brave and Jester community to support them in their final weekend performing “Hands on a Hard Body.” Mr. Lang also invites any students interested in performing in the spring production to try out.

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