During the first semester of Acting I and II at The King’s Academy, the class worked to prepare a one-act play to perform at the end of the year. This play was then performed on December 8th for elementary classes 1st through 4th throughout the day.
This year, the play was “Wooing Wed Widing Hood”, an amalgamation of several popular Grimm’s fairytales. The play is written by Charlie Lovette, with performance rights purchased by Mrs. Martin (the Acting teacher), and it follows several princes’ attempts to win the hand of Red Riding Hood, but from two “half-dragons” to a vegetarian wolf, little goes as planned. To the elementary classes, the quirky, fast-paced proceedings were equal parts joyous and hilarious. Behind the wonderful performance, however, was a lot of work and passion.
Luke Cristantiello is a Sophomore who took Acting II and played the role of Red Riding Hood’s father and the King. He remarks on the amount of effort that went into the preparation for the performance. The work started in early October when roles were assigned. “I was very excited to see that I had been chosen to play the role of Mr. Hood and the King”, Luke states. Taking on the roles, however, was no easy task. Weeks were spent simply memorizing lines. “Mrs. Martin did a firm job of getting those lines stuck in [our] old noggins,” Luke recalls with humor that hints at a deep love and a positive memory of the experience.
A standout moment for Luke was the day the cast saw their set: a towering wooden structure with stairs and multiple levels to play on, housed on the main stage of the state-of-the-art performing center. The set was originally constructed for the musical Little Women, although Mr. Snyder (the creative director of the TKA conservatory), allowed the Acting class to adapt the set to their needs for the performance. This included adding a TV and a small forest of sparkling trees.
Once on the set, the cast began learning their blocking. Because of the unique and expansive set, there were many opportunities for creative choreography. In addition to vocal inflection and facial expressions, characters express themselves through their specific mannerisms and positions on stage. The cast took full advantage of the set and stage, designing complex and visually interesting blocking.
Next came costumes. “I, myself, had to wear a bathrobe for Mr. Hood,” Luke recalls. “It was quite comfortable, actually. I also got a robe, crown, and scepter for the King.” Other costumes in the show include multicolored hoods for Red Riding Hood and her two sisters, a fursuit for the Wolf, and a two-part dragon costume used in a scene that got a lot of laughs from the audience.
December 8th, the day of the performance, was a whirlwind of costumes, props, and nerves. The cast was anxious and excited, though Mrs. Martin did a good job calming their nerves and preparing them to deliver several great performances during the day. In the end, all the work put in was worthwhile. “[the audience] responded better than I could have ever imagined!” Luke says. Parts of performing in front of such a young audience wad intimidating to the actors, but they were pleasantly surprised how much the kids’ energy fed into their performance. There was an abundance of laughter and excited chatter throughout the show, especially during moments of audience interaction.
Through Luke’s experience in Acting II and the one-act play, he learned that he shouldn’t be afraid of giving his all. “Mrs. Martin expected a lot from me, and rightfully so.” Luke believes the final product was a testament to both the potential of the students involved and the teaching of Mrs. Martin. Luke would confidently say the performance was the highlight of his year so far and he would do it again in a heartbeat. He thanks Mrs. Martin for making everything possible and “being an amazing director, teacher, friend, and person.”
Luke, for one, plans on taking Mrs. Martin’s Acting Class again next school year to further his own skills and continue producing great works.