‘On the Razzle’ draws in audience despite difficulties

November 4, 2009 — by Christine Bancroft and Mary Mykhaylova

The drama department successfully showcased fall play “On the Razzle” during the weekend of Oct. 22-25 at the McAfee Center, despite difficulties such as illness, issues with scene changes and cues and a smaller audience turnout than had been seen in the past.

“There were a lot of bugs going around during rehearsal,” said sophomore Natalie Berg, who played a Scottish woman. “Everyone was in really close contact. It was hard not to get sick.”

The play, by British playwright Tom Stoppard, was directed by drama teacher Chris Mahle.

The show managed to go on after an extremely rigorous “hell week” of late-nights that included dress rehearsals and stage set-up in preparation for the performances. The audience turnout, however, was a bit of a letdown. Unlike sold-out productions of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Grease” last year, this Stoppard farce drew a smaller audience because it wasn’t as well known as these classic productions, and it suffered from poor timing.

“On the Razzle” was scheduled for an already busy weekend with the Los Gatos football game and a band competition, so many students who would have otherwise enjoyed the production were not able to make it.

Despite the smaller audiences, the cast loved performing the play and enjoyed working together. To keep up a positive atmosphere, actors continued rituals to keep the cast close and friendly with one another.

Senior Chris Renalds, who played played Christopher, said that a common one is going to Jake’s Restaurant after performances and before-school coffee runs. “We wake up an hour early and do homework,” said Renalds.

Along with cast-bonding, the group also continues the tradition of Secret Stars, similar to Secret Buddies on sports teams, in which one cast member is assigned a “secret star” and gives that person gifts without revealing their identity to the recipient. The purpose of the activity is to boost self-esteem and friendship between cast members.

First-time cast members also enjoyed the experience, including freshman Moriah Chermak, who played a citizen. She had acted in several of Redwood Middle School’s plays and musicals but found working with older students to be a rewarding experience.

“It’s really exciting. It’s so different from Redwood,” said Chermak. “You have props, so you don’t have to pantomime. I loved working with the upperclassmen and learning all the jokes, and they told you how not to mess up, so you don’t do it again. I had a lot of fun this show.”