School play review: A sensational performance boosts “spirit” at West


Morgan Eberle

Aubrey Trecek and Trevor Whittow during Saturday’s performance of Blithe Spirit. The performers earned laughs from the audience on several occasions.

The New Berlin West TAP (Theatre Arts Program) performed an enactment of the classic comedy, Blithe Spirit, this past weekend. Performances included Friday, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon matinee showings. Student tickets were available at $3 each, and all showings took place in New Berlin West’s Performing Arts Center.

Blithe Spirit is a classic, romantic comedy that was first produced on Broadway in New York City nearly 72 years ago. Producer Sir Noel Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer himself.  The play took place in the 1940’s during World War II and revolves around Charles Condomine, a socialite and author, and Ruth Condomine, a pretentious housewife who enjoys the finer things in life.  The play takes a spin once the Condomines invite their friends, Mr. And Mrs. Bradman, and an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to participate in a séance one evening.  Immediately after the reading, paranormal activity begins to shape the lives of the Condomines as the house is haunted by Charles’ first wife, Elvira, who had died seven years prior.

Actors and actresses at New Berlin West held their own while performing this complicated intertwined script. Lead Actor Trevor Whittow played the main role of Charles Condomine. Appearing dominant in every scene, he nailed all scripted lines with great enthusiasm and power in his voice.  However, there were a couple lines in which he took with too much enthusiasm, that he would speak rather quickly and would slur his words.

Another leader in this production was Bailey Pietsch, who played the role of Ruth Condomine, Charles’ second wife.  Pietsch proved herself to be a very dependable and enthusiastic member of the cast.  She played her role exceptionally well as the looked professional and genuine.

The last lead role in the performance went to Junior Selena Deer, who played the part of Madame Arcati.  Selena’s performance looked natural for her as it was definitely easy to see how comfortable she felt while on stage. It was always exciting to anticipate her next arrival on stage, for it would glow with enthusiasm and would bring about a slightly more humorous mood.

“Hold onto your hats boys!” Elvira, played by Aubrey Trecek, exclaims as she reveals her return from the dead.  Elvira is presented as the ghost of Mr. Condomine’s first wife. She is only seen and heard by Mr. Conomine which adds comedy into the story as great confusion and tension builds among the rest of the cast.  Aubrey played her part extraordinarily well. Because she rarely voiced her opinion through words, she used other acting techniques such as body movement and attitude to express herself.

Other roles include that of Melissa Vanselow who played Mrs. Violet Bradman and her casting husband, Elijah Krause (Dr. George Bradman). This couple played family friends of the Condomines’.   There seemed to be a problem with Vanselow’s microphone earlier in the showing, but it was difficult to notice as she confidently spoke with clearness and power.  Both of these senior actors showed the audience their love of the theater throughout the performance as well as their brilliant chemistry with each other and the rest of the cast.

As a whole, the cast performed remarkably together. Since the majority of the cast was made up of upper classmen, the friendship amongst the actors also added to the acting itself. From an audience perspective, it was bluntly clear to see the joy that each individual had speaking to their friends.

Moreover, the set on stage was very elegant and well put together overall; a living room and kitchen dining area appeared mid stage, with surrounding elements for ambiance. Although the scenery seemed to become repetitive as the plot progressed, small details such as light fixtures, hanging pictures and even books strategically placed on shelves were nice realistic touches.

According to lead Actor Trevor Whittow, “Opening Night is the show to see.”  He feels that the nerves and un-worked details actually push the actors to perform well with each other, often resulting in a better performance.

When asked, several actors as well as stage crew members confessed that prior to the first live performance, technical details couldn’t be ironed. Also, the stage crew and actors practiced and rehearsed together minimally.

Director Judith Smith has been involved with theatre since a young age herself. She managed specific theatres and art centers as an executive as well, and fell back in love with directing and acting in 2010. Recently, she played a role in Nunsense, for the New Berlin Community Theatre which launched in the summer of 2013.  As always she prepared her cast members phenomenally and expected a high outcome. She emphasized staying true to the mission statement, “Provide a novel…that challenges and transforms, inspires and amazes, educates and empowers students, artists, and audiences through high quality theatrical performances.”

Saturday night, the PAC’s audience had a great appreciation for classic comedies, parents and students, and a community of theatre-goers who support TAP and the arts. Although the audience was thoroughly impressed with the performance, very few seats were filled. Less than 10 students in the audience were accounted for and the total could have been no more than 100 in all.

As the TAP strives to put forth much effort into making these performances viable, everyone is encouraged to see future productions. This year’s specifics include Once upon a Mattress in January, Alice in Wonderland in April, and The Odd Couple in April as well.