students Eve GunderKline, left, Hallie Cranos, Glenn Reed and Martin
Bakari during a recent rehearsal for the high schools fall
play, Inspecting Carol, which opens this weekend at
the Antioch Theater.
Comedy 'Inspecting Carol'
play opens this weekend
When Marcia Nowik
came to town in 1992 to direct the Yellow Springs High School spring musical
Pippin, the students knew they had a good thing. The school asked her
back the following spring, and 10 years later, students say the confidence
she has inspired in them is giving this years thespians loads of
comedic energy for their fall play, Inspecting Carol, opening tonight
(Thursday) at the Antioch Theater.
Amid the commotion of actors, techies and loud drilling on the production
set three nights before the curtain goes up, Nowik was the picture of
calm. A cast member approached with her concern of a missing musical part.
An intentionally broken stage wasnt falling quite the way it should.
A lighting tech called down from the ceiling to ask about the proper direction
of the beam.
Oh yeah, things will come together, stage manager Jacque Laurens,
a senior, said without concern. They always do.
Zora, the Lithuanian producer played by Erin Silvert-Noftle, ranted and
raved about funding for her amateur theater troupes production of
A Christmas Carol. The antics of the British couple, played by Rose Blakelock
and Glen Reed, garnered hearty laughter from the crew and several alumni
who have returned to watch. In the end a botched attempt to win the favor
of a representative from the National Endowment for the Arts proved to
be a commentary on the perils of trying too hard to please others.
The play is about funding and recognition and how far people are
willing to go for approval, Nowik said.
Planting the seed for an idea and shaping the play around that theme is
something Nowik said she enjoys about theater.
She wasnt always a director, though. She began her performance career
as a ballet dancer in high school, learning through movement.
School was painful for me because Im an extremely kinetic
person, and I learn best by moving around and becoming a character or
a historical figure, she said.
But Nowik said she found the physical demands of dancing limited both
the parameters of her talents and interests and the variety of people
she had a chance to meet. Thats when she discovered theater.
Putting on a show requires a diverse group with diverse talents to come
together for a common creative purpose. Unlike some other activities,
the theater is a place where anyone can rely on his or her individual
strengths to succeed, Nowik said. And she didnt care whether she
was acting or directing as long as she was involved in theater.
While Nowik was directing Youth theater at the Dayton Playhouse in the
early 1990s, she came to Yellow Springs to see the high school perform
Star Mites and The Good Doctor.
After seeing one or two shows here I knew I really wanted to get
my hands on this group of students to do theater, she said. Ive
been having too much fun, and now I cant go away from it.
Nowik said directing is a way for her to pass onto younger people ways
to learn physically.
Directing is natural for me because I love being able to read something
on the page and put the words into physical form with lights, body forms,
shapes and colors, she said.
And she says she is still learning important lessons about the process.
While coordinating the musical production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Nowik
found herself becoming fixated on every detail. She said it was wonderful
having so many community members involved, but that she lost sight of
the unification process that allows a show to breathe and be the sum of
its talented parts.
As a director I have this vision and I get so stressed about incorporating
all the ideas just so, that I would forget that it is going well and that
it is exactly what I want, she said. If we allow the show
to take shape on its own and let the energy of each body mesh with the
others, she said with a pause, weve got magic!
To further the theater program at Yellow Springs High School, Nowik organized
the students to write and produce their own one-act plays and to join
the International Honor Society of Thespians. The Thespian Society sponsors
workshops, voice classes and drama competitions with other schools. Connecting
with other theater groups allows students to see how others do things
differently, she said.
In the theater we have a chance to work with a lot of people we
wouldnt normally socialize with, Silvert-Noftle, an eighth
grader, said as she joked around with a senior, a junior and two sophomores
who were also in the play.
Being stereotypical dramatists, the students were outspoken about what
they like and what they dont like. And they like Marcia Nowik.
Shes like a mom and mentor to the entire cast and crew, always
telling us to get sleep and take our vitamins, Laurens said.
Theres a level of maturity and trust because we are treated
like adults, technical director Lydia Gerthoffer said. Working
with Marcia in the theater is the best experience Ive ever had in
The cast includes Martin Bakari, Rose Blakelock, Charlie Cromer, Hallie
Cranos, Monica Erickson, Eve GunderKline, John Hempfling, Patrick Holihan,
James Hyde, Paia LaPalombara, Kevin Malarkey, Glenn Reed, Mori Rothman,
Aaron Zaremsky and Matthew Zaremsky.
Inspecting Carol will be performed ThursdaySaturday, Nov. 2123,
and FridaySaturday, Nov. 2930, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24,
and SaturdaySunday, Nov. 30Dec. 1, at 2 p.m.