By VARSHA BADAVIDE
The 2018 Fall Play, Get Smart, has been in production for about ten weeks since it was first announced. Produced by the UHS Theater Arts Department, the play is being shown from Wednesday, November 14 to Saturday, November 17 at 7 pm in the Big Theater.
Get Smart is a spy comedy set in 1967, in which field agent Maxwell Smart, with the aid of his trusty sidekick, Agent 99, needs to stop the evil crime organization KAOS and its mastermind, Mr. Big, from going through with his plans for world domination. The play is based off of the first two episodes of the American television series and movie by the same name.
“Get Smart is a parody of old time spy movies,” sophomore Geraldine Ang said, the publicity manager of the play. “The humor is great and it’s kind of fast paced, so I think it’s enjoyable for a lot of people.”
The members of the cast have dedicated countless hours to practicing their lines and better understanding their characters in order to portray them to the best of their abilities.
“We have had a lot of rehearsals where we work with other actors and on our own,” sophomore Hiromi Nishida said, who plays Ingrid, a Scandinavian princess. “Ms. Bettger gives us a set of circumstances where we would better understand our character’s backstory and personality and through that, we can know the motives for our character’s actions and bring our characters to life.”
The actors also incorporated aspects of their own personalities and individual interpretations to their characters to make them more real and relatable.
“I really like the fact that [my character] is kind of a spin-off of [the Inspector from] Pink Panther, and also Michael Scott, from the Office,” junior Davide Costa said, who plays the lead Maxwell Smart, an agent from the anti-crime organization, CONTROL. “So he’s like a mixture of all of those kinds of people and he’s just one of those people that do stupid things to make people laugh, which I relate to a lot. I do that a lot at times and it’s just that super idiotic character that’s really funny…I enjoy that kind of person because it makes me laugh, so portraying that character is fun for me.”
In addition to making the characters their own, the actors and actresses also sometimes have to improvise, since due to the comedic nature of the play, many of the scenes are not set in stone and flexible to change.
“A lot of it has to be improvised if you want it to seem the most natural and less robotic. Sometimes, we’re improvising in the moment…We’re literally making new choices, so it could be different each rehearsal,” senior Neiman Araque said. “We’re always improvising, like not the lines we say, but…how we deliver our lines.”
Alongside the cast members, the UHS crew of technicians has dedicated numerous hours to producing the show behind the scenes. The designers of the show, who have been around since the play auditions, decided all of the set designs and visuals for the show in the time between the first rehearsal for actors and the first Saturday build day. Additionally, the crew attended after school rehearsals every day of the week. They spent the time designing and developing the costumes, props and structures in order to successfully replicate the 1960s setting of the play.
“This show has a lot of detectives and business men and women, which I’ve never done before,” costume designer head junior Giana DiTolla said. “I love fitting actors and seeing their face when they’re in their costume because it’s one of the last things that completes the character.”
All of the cast and backstage crew, along with many volunteers, have dedicated several Saturdays, from 10 am to 7 pm, to building the set. As opposed to having one major stationary set location, which is typical of many shows, this year’s play calls for many different sets and locations, requiring a ton of moving scenery.
“This show is really interesting because it requires a ton of props and special effects, but the script doesn’t call for a lot of sets and other technical elements, so we’ve had to design a lot of it ourselves,” senior Deja Allen said, the lighting designer for the show. “I have helped with lights in the past but it’s my first time designing [a show].”
Before the show can be complete, technicians working with different production values have to finish their own designs and work according to their specific jobs, which include lighting, sound, props, hair, makeup, costume and stage management.
“It’s kind of cool to see it all come together into a fully functional show,” Allen said.
A defining feature of this year’s production was the closeness of the cast and the crew.
“The amount of cohesiveness that the casting has this year is something that I’ve never witnessed before in my past years of Uni Theatre Arts…We never have been this willing to work with each other,” Araque said. “The compassion and love that we have for each other is something I cherish very well in this production.”
“Get Smart involves an extraordinary group of gifted people: production staff, students of theater, actors and technicians, all artists,” director Ms. Ranae Bettger added. “This show highlights the work of many students new to the theatre, and it has been a unique blessing to be able to collaborate with Uni’s Alumni who are now working professionally in the field yet were able to give back and foster a new generation of artists from University High School.”