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Sachem East Drama Club Puts on a Production of Voices from the High School

Students perform a series of vignettes on the rites of passage and pitfalls of adolescence.

The Sachem East Drama Club presented the unconventional play Voices from the High School last week at . The little known play written by Peter Dee is not the typical high school performance. Producer and director Ken Dobbins, assistant director Lena Leonardi and the entire cast and crew are to be commended for tackling this topical, yet timeless, showcase which had audience members of all ages laughing one moment and crying the next.

This was an ensemble piece with over a dozen actors taking on various roles, and comprised of a series of short vignettes dealing with the perceptions of those in high school, their rites of passage and perspectives on life as they navigate adolescence and move toward adulthood. The professionalism and maturity of these young actors was evident in their adept handling of extremely sensitive subject matter broached with subtlety, dignity and grace.

Voices included monologues delivered directly to the audience, which preceded trenchant, succinct slices of life enhanced by minimalist, but realistic, set design courtesy of Daniel R. Lowis and the scenic construction crew. There was also a chorus composed of the entire cast, whose voices rose up in unison, in a fashion evocative of the spoken word chorus of ancient Greek theatre.  There, the students supplied poetic summarizations of the production's key themes such as when the group chanted, "The teenage body is a universe still in the primitive stages of exploration."

One of the scenes featured Ryan Fazziola as a teen in the habit of using marijuana every day before school, as well as dabbling in popping pills. His girlfriend, played by Samantha Meadows, struggled to understand his self-destructive tendencies, while helping him cram for an exam, for which he was unprepared, five minutes before class began.

Brian Racaniello and Ashley Iadanza were adorable as a couple swept up in the giddiness of first love and provided some comic relief early on to the heady showcase. On the flipside, Jake DeRobertis and Sarah Clive displayed the jealousy and despair of young love gone awry.

Fazziola and Iadanza were heartbreaking in their segment about the longing to be held and the permanent consequences of a momentary lapse of judgment during unprotected sex.

In a scene featuring Sarah Audate and Katie Gerardi, a girl had to break it to her best friend that the reason she couldn't try out for the cheerleading team was because she was pregnant.

Racaniello and Amanda Saladino offered up another moment of levity as Saladino portrayed an accident-prone girl on the night of her prom, with Racaniello as her unconditionally loving beau.

Both poignant and hilarious, was the dialogue between Dan Witschel and Chad Lowe's characters as they gave the finger to passing trains, while pondering what they will do when high school is over.

Christina Perri was endearing and relatable as a girl who hated Valentine's Day until the right boy, played by Fazziola, came along.

Lowe appeared in a standout solo scene where he recounted a suicide attempt saying, "I'm embarrassed to be telling you about this, but happy that I can."

The most riveting portion of the play was probably the scene involving Fazziola and Iadanza. The audience was brought to tears by the moving performances surrounding the accidental deaths of the characters' siblings.

The play ended with a vignette featuring Meadows and Racaniello, where Meadows' character pondered why life is never like it is in dreams, and reminded that bullying can be a "killer of the spirit, if you let it."

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