Behind the Scenes: California Suite

by RACHEL MILBERG

Friday and Saturday night, Oceanside High School will put on a production of California Suite, directed by Mrs. Laura Gallo. The show, a dramatic comedy written by Neil Simon, is centered on a hotel in Beverly Hills, following four different storylines all taking place at this same location. As most shows go at OHS, the cast  has become very close and comfortable with one another, evident by the constant support that each cast member shows for the others. As a member of the cast, I have seen first hand the respect that every person who is part of this show has for one another. The actors and crewmembers have a true appreciation and passion for the art that is theatre. I have been constantly impressed by the approach that we as a cast take towards each show we put on, but this show in particular has given me a lot to think about.

California Suite is a very serious show, but this hasn’t stopped Mrs. Gallo from surveying the talent that the students possess and using that talent to its full extent. “It’s the first show that I have ever been in where everyone in the cast is tap dancing,” says Sarah Romanelli, who plays Debbie Reynolds opening the Oscar Awards. This is true; the show has a dance number and song, in addition to the band of musicians that plays on the side during scene changes and during certain portions of the show. Mrs. Gallo has found a masterful way to combine acting and music to create a very sophisticated tone for the show itself.

“Our students are mature actors and deserve to be doing pieces that show their range of abilities,” Mrs. Gallo states, “and it is the first time that we have ever done a show where there are two to four people on stage at a time for most of the production, so it has been a very exciting experience to work closely with these actors.” Mrs. Gallo is a beloved teacher at Oceanside High School. She cares about her students, she cares about directing, and she takes our interpretations into account when blocking shows by constantly encouraging our ideas. In fact, many of the cast members are also part of Mrs. Gallo’s acting and dance classes that are offered at the school. They give students an opportunity to hone their skills while also learning highly beneficial life experience, such as interviewing techniques, audition prep, and public speaking. She has been performing since she was three years old, and her expertise is evident when watching  her direct. She knows how to speak eloquently, how to be a leader, and how to make the show the best that it can be down to the most miniscule details. As a member of her advanced acting class, I can say that it is a true pleasure to work with someone so dedicated and supportive as Mrs. Gallo.

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The show has been extremely enjoyable for the cast members. “I have never worked on a show so mature. I’ve always been a part of shows geared more towards children, and this has given me so much experience and taught me so much about what it is like to work with one scene partner,” says Ben Murasso, who plays Marvin Michaels in the show. In addition, the stage manager of the show, Caroline Rowley, spoke to me about her experience working on California Suite from behind the sound and lighting booth. “We are very lucky here at OHS,” she says, “because we have a very professional atmosphere, professional equipment, and an overall professional approach. This show has given me so much experience working as a leader, and it is something I am very grateful for.” Professionalism is key for these performers, who pride themselves on their unique abilities to take on any challenge that is given to them. We have had to perform in the hallway, in the lobby, and in very cramped spaces when the auditorium has been occupied, and we have adapted. We have made it work. The theatre students at Oceanside High School are very excited, very energized, and very grateful to be given the opportunities that Mrs. Gallo has given them in doing this show. California Suite will be performed Friday, November 20th and Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 in the OHS auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door!