It seemed impossible to have people sitting side-by-side in the theater during a pandemic, but after more than a year performing virtually, the Drew Theater and Dance Department was able to hold its first fully in-person set since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost two years ago. The performance took place on Thursday, Sept. 30 in the D-Lab.
“Box Play,” directed by Emily Solomon (‘23) and “21 Chump Street,” directed by Holly Stefanik (‘23), were both featured.
“The themes of ‘Box Play’ were stuff that really spoke to me and felt important to discuss, especially as a sapphic woman who does not have many characters that I can really connect with in the theatre world, it was nice to feel seen,” Solomon, who has wanted to direct a play since applying to Drew and was grateful for the opportunity to make it happen, said. “Plus the play is funny as hell.”
Box Play, written by Liv Shoup, follows teen Morgan, played by Shannon Dempsey (‘23), and her best friend Lucy, played by Tori Cavallo (‘23), as they packed up Morgan’s childhood bedroom before getting kicked out. The show incited lots of laughter, but as it progressed, the intensity of the plot resonated with the audience.
“I could not have chosen a better show or a better team to be a part of for my directorial debut,” Soloman said. “Most importantly, I made friendships that I’m sure will last for life and I learned that I am more than capable of doing the thing that I love and doing a good job at it.”
“21 Chump Street”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is based on the true story of Florida teen Justin, played by Kris Perez (‘24), getting caught up in a drug deal with an undercover female cop, played by Maria Ruiz Birriel (‘23). The role of the narrator was played by Dylan McCormick (‘24), and the ensemble consisted of Joel Best (‘24), Avelina Rivezzo Weber (‘24) and Lauren Miglietta (‘24).
“Directing ‘21 Chump Street’ was such an amazing experience as my directing debut for Drew,” Stefanik said. “To work with such a great cast and team while putting on a performance that discusses real life issues of injustice in the system is so important and I hope to continue to direct shows that inspire people to stand up and fight for change.”
The musical is simultaneously upbeat and heartbreaking, and the show received great praise from the audience.
“I thought that the shows were very well executed and a great display of the talent that exists at Drew University,” Kayla Anthony (’23) said, “and a wonderful production to begin in person theater at Drew.”
It was clear that the energy created by live theater was severely missed by theater lovers and actors alike. “Box Play” and “21 Chump Street” proved that live theater will continue to bring audiences together to experience theatrical works of art.