It’s Prep School Drama In BHS-PAC’s Production Of Shakespeare’s Comedy ‘Love’s Labors Lost’

Photo: The production poster of BHS-PAC’s 2022 fall play Love’s Labors Lost

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s 2022 Fall Play is Love’s Labors Lost, an early William Shakespeare work which in PAC’s production updates the comedy from the mythical medieval Kingdom of Navarre to a modern day Prep School with gender-mixed casting, some modern day language, contemporary pop music and even some viral internet trends.

“The goal of our production is for Shakespeare fans and first timers to follow along and enjoy the show,” said Ezra Flam, the Performing Arts Company Producer/Director. 

The production will take place Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Nov. 17, 18, 19 at 7 p.m. at the Belmont High School Black Box theater.

TICKETS are:

  • Adults: $12
  • BHS Students: $5
  • Children: $7

Ticketing for the shows is all online, and advance purchase of tickets is strongly encouraged, as the Black Box has limited seating capacity. Tickets can be purchased at bhs-pac.org.

The PAC Production features a send up of high school stereotypes, and mixes into the comedy some modern day slang, contemporary pop music and even some viral internet trends.

One of the highlights of this production has been the PAC’s update of the Shakespeare setting to the modern day. The show is now set in Navarre Academy, where the Student Council President (Ferdinand) convinces their three best friends to sign on to a pledge to study seriously and avoid romance. Just as they sign the pledge, four exchange students from the French Academy arrive at Navarre Academy for the term. One by one the members of the Navarre Academy Student Council fall in love with one of the exchange students and go to great lengths to keep secret from the others that they have broken their pledge.

Meanwhile, the other students of Navarre Academy get mixed up in the action, and drag the four couples into all of the other drama at school: Mathlete drama, Sports drama, Class Clown drama, Hall Monitor drama, Cool Kid drama, Skater Punk drama and even Drama Club drama.

“In rehearsal students have been tasked with first understanding and mastering how to deliver the Shakespearean language, and then make it accessible to audiences who may not be familiar with the show. The cast has done a great job of using staging and physicality, as well as careful placement of some contemporary-language and music to tell the story,” said Flam in a press release.

The other fun thing to explore in the show is the way in which our modern-day telling upends many of the gender-norms present in the original script. Shakespeare’s version of Love’s Labors Lost featured for “boys” falling in love with four “girls,” and played on many of the familiar expectations of those stories. Our casting mixes up gender and sexuality, and has allowed us to explore more fully some of the relationship dynamics that present day BHS students actually experience.

The tech crew has been hard at work creating the world of the show. Under the guidance of Scenic Designer Anna Moss, Costume Designer Lila West and Technical Director Ian O’Malley, students are building the grand lobby of a prep school built in the 1800s, constructing school uniforms that
showcase the personalities of the characters and filling the show with fun props, music and lighting.

The show features a cast of 18 actors and the tech crew includes more than 40 students working on lighting, scenery, costumes, props, sound and stage management.

Not To Be Missed: 2022 Broadway Night, Performing Art’s Cabaret, This Friday, Saturday

Photo: The 2022 Broadway Night poster

Belmont High School Performing Arts Company presents Broadway Night on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont High School Theater.

The dance number

Broadway Night is the company’s annual Musical Theater Cabaret, which kicks off the 2022-3 season. Students perform classic show tunes and contemporary work from new musical theater composers in an evening of song, dance and storytelling. The show features solo, duet and group songs, with a mix of humor, heart, romance and high-energy fun, plus a dance number choreographed by the PAC Musical Choreographer Jenny Lifson.

Admission: $5 students/children, $12 adults

Advance Ticket Purchase encouraged: Ticket sales and more info at bhs-pac.org

Get Tix Now For Performing Arts Company’s Spring Improv Show On Friday, May 27

Photo: Poster for the Spring Improv Show

It’s fun, it’s spontaneous and it sells out each year.

Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is presenting its final production of the school year, the annual Spring Improv Show, on Friday, May 27 at 7 p.m. in the school’s Black Box Admission: 

The Improv Show is a high-energy performance, made up on the spot from audience suggestions. This week’s show will feature a set of musical improv games, with made-up-on-the-spot songs!

One of the most popular productions of the year, advance ticket purchase is encouraged. The show is free for the school’s staff and students and $5 for everyone else.

Ticket sales and more info at bhs-pac.org  


BHS Performing Arts Company Presents ‘The Servant Of Two Masters’ For Fall Play

Photo: From the poster of The Servant of Two Masters presented by the BHS PAC on Nov. 18-20.

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is presenting its fall play, THE SERVANTS OF TWO MASTERS, on Thursday, Nov. 18, Friday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 20 in the high school’s Black Box Theater.

Written by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni in 1746 and revised in 1789, The Servant of Two Masters is a comedy for audiences of all ages. Based on the traditional Commedia dell’arte, the play features physical comedy, wordplay, music, slapstick gags, wild costumes, candy colored scenery, and a madcap plot that will leave your head spinning.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for children and $5 for BHS students/staff. Tickets can be purchased online, and advance ticket purchase recommended as these performances sell out.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with a special 2:40 p.m. performance on Friday just for BHS students/staff.

Details about the show and ticket sales at bhs-pac.org

As we invite audiences back into our schools, here are some guidelines for those who plan to attend theater events this year:

  1. MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED for all audience members.
  2. Food/drinks will not be allowed in performance spaces.
  3. The size of our Black Box Theater means that there is not a guarantee of distancing for audience members. We encourage family units to sit together, but at sold out shows, you will be seated directly adjacent to others.
  4. Some students performing on stage for theater events will be unmasked. These students have been required by the Belmont School Committee to be vaccinated.
  5. Anyone experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 should not attendperformances. You can reference the BPS Student Symptom Checker here.

We appreciate your compliance with these requirements. 

Preforming Arts Co.’s ‘Broadway Night’ To Show Off Belmont High’s New Black Box

Photo: The finale of BHS PAC Broadway Night (thanks to BHS PAC)

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is returning after a year-and-a-half in the virtual sphere to all live performances with its annual “Broadway Night: Musical Theater Cabaret” this weekend, Oct. 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.

To celebrate its homecoming, the in-school group will welcome the audience to its new home: The Black Box Theater on the first floor of the recently opened high school wing of the Belmont Middle and High School. The space has professional lighting and sound as well as flexible seating configurations that will allow for a greater audience experience.

Students artists will perform classic and contemporary works of musical theater consisting of solo/duet/small groups songs which are primarily self-directed which will showcase the acting, singing and dancing talents of the PAC members. And with every year, there will be a final song and dance performed by the entire company.

Tickets are $5 for students/children and $12 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online, and advance ticket purchase recommended: shows, as always, are expected to sell out!

Details about the show and ticket sales at bhs-pac.org

Due to As we prepare to invite audiences back into our schools, here are some guidelines for those who plan to attend theater events this year:

  • MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED for all audience members.
  • Food/drinks will not be allowed in performance spaces.
  • The size of our Black Box Theater means that there is not a guarantee of distancing for audience members. We encourage family units to sit together, but at sold out shows, you will be seated directly adjacent to others.
  • Some students performing on stage for theater events will be unmasked. These students have been required by the Belmont School Committee to be vaccinated.
  • Anyone experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 should not attend performances. You can reference the BPS Student Symptom Checker here.

BHS PAC Trivia Night 2020 Fundraiser, Friday, Feb. 7

Photo: Poster of BHS PAC Trivia Night.

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s fourth annual Trivia Night will take place on Friday, Feb. 7, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

Event-goers can form a team of six to eight people prior to the event, or join a team upon arrival. The event includes free wine, beer, and delicious food from local vendors, with plenty of time to socialize between trivia rounds. 

This event will be a great opportunity for the Belmont residents, friends, and colleagues to participate in an entertaining evening of friendly competition and community building to support the high school’s Performing Arts Company.

Attendees will be have the chance to meet and mingle with the staff who work on the PAC shows, including producer/director Ezra Flam and choreographer Jenny Lifson. All funds raised will support the purchase of new technical equipment for the PAC and the Dan Scharfman College Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to two graduating PAC students each year.

DATE: Friday, February 7, 7-10 pm 
LOCATION: Beech Street Center
PRICE: $45 per ticket

Participating vendors include: Comella’s, Fiorella’s, Anna’s Taqueria, Magnolia Wine, Conley’s Pub, Wilson Farm, Star Market, Iggy’s, The Spirited Gourmet, Spice Delight, and many more!

Tickets are $45. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.bhs-pac.org/trivia-night.html or email Carolyn Boyle, Chairperson of Patrons (the PAC parent group), at bhspatrons@gmail.com.

‘All Animals Are Equal …’ BHS PAC’s ‘Animal Farm’ In Performance Nov. 7-9

Photo: Poster for the play

You may have read it, you certainly have heard about it and we may be living it. Now is your chance to see it on stage as the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company presents an adaptation of George Orwell’s story “Animal Farm” in three performances Nov. 7-9 at 7 p.m. at the Belmont High School auditorium.

Tickets are:

  • Adults: $12 advance sale/$15 at the door.
  • Children/students: $5 Thursday/$10 Friday and Saturday
  • Belmont High Students: $5.

Tickets are available at Champions Sports in Belmont Center or online at bhs-pac.org

From an allegorical novella by George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four) Animal Farm demonstrates that best intentions could lead to bad consequences: after staging a successful revolution against their human masters, a group of farm animals establishes a communal society, only to see it devolve into the corrupt regime of a power-hungry dictator.

Remember: “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

The play resonates with many of the issues the world faces today: the rise of totalitarianism and demagoguery, massive wealth inequality, gaslighting propaganda and fake news, cults of popularity disguised as populism, and the use of violence to solve problems. But the play grounds these topics in a vivid immediate reality. And while the book was clearly an allegory about the rise of Stalinism when it was originally written, the story feels eerily contemporary.

The production does not attempt to shoehorn the play into one particular interpretation or historical setting, according to PAC’s director Ezra Flam.

“The surprise of the show is not what happens, but how you get there,” noted Flam. How do good people let bad things happen – and even participate in making decisions that go against their own interests, challenge their self-concepts, or actually violate their memories and their grip on reality?

The play takes place on the Manor farm, where the alcoholic human farmer Mr. Jones has been mistreating the animals and mismanaging the farm. At the urging of Old Major, a boar held in high esteem by the animals, the residents of the farm take matters into their own hands, oust Mr. Jones, and rename the farm “Animal Farm.” Led by two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, the new community establishes a society built on egalitarian principles, universal education, and long-missing economic efficiency.

But soon the elation of their utopia gives way to doctrinal squabbles, propaganda fights, and vicious power plays, and everyone scrambles to choose the right side or be swept away by the tide of corruption growing in the center of their idyllic community.

By the end of the play, one of the early leaders has been banished, kangaroo courts have sent many innocent people to their deaths, and the farm has turned out worse than it ever was under the misguided administration of the humans.

In his notes of the show. Flam said this production showcases what the Performing Arts Company does best: give actors and stage crew the chance to learn about theater by creating a fully realized production.

Making the show happen has engaged the efforts of more than just the cast of 26 actors. More than 75 students are part of the backstage crew: building and painting scenery, making costumes, creating lighting and sound effects, constructing props and working as production assistants.

But Animal Farm has called on even more than the usual set of skills.

The actors and crew must tell a story that exists on multiple levels, said Flam. The cast must tell a deeply allegorical story that decries totalitarianism both in its Stalinist expression but which echoes into the current day. For example, they were both schooled in Soviet history and watched videos of Brexit arguments in Parliament to prepare for their roles.)

They must enact vicious moment-by-moment power plays, oppression, and experiences of terror, all while thoroughly respecting their fellow actors. And they must tell this harrowing story in the guise of farm animals – and not as they might portray a cow in the stable of a Christmas play, but in a way that captures the nuances of animal characteristics without devolving into caricature.

“They can’t just play a horse like you might in fourth grade,” Flam explains. “The actors need to do a play that tells a story on the surface but underneath tells deeper stories.” Whether pig, sheep, or horse, the actors must tell a profoundly human story.

Likewise, the production crew has worked diligently to help create the world of the story. The students on the costumes crew, under the guidance of Costume Designer Lila West and in conjunction with the actors themselves, have created a wealth of costumes that evoke rather than explicitly depict animals. Through costume pieces and improvised movement, the cast and crew create a world of animals without yielding to literal representation.

Meanwhile, the collaborative efforts of the cast and student set crew, led by Scenic Designer Anna Moss and Technical Director Ian O’Malley, have produced a set that evokes a farm but allows the audience to grasp the timeless themes of the story.