Performing Arts Company’s One Act Festival Returns With Pirates, Baggage, And A Dead Butler

Photo: Lincoln Crockett directing the world premier of “The Butler is Dead” at the One Act Festival at Belmont High School.

The sad tales of unclaimed luggage, a murder mystery in which the butler didn’t do it and a verbally gifted pirate in search of a special someone.

These are just a few of the productions presented this week with the return of the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s Student Directed One Act Play Festival taking place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 12-14 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont High School Black Box Theater.

Tickets can be purchased online here. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

The annual production is back on stage after a two-year Covid hiatus with a mix of comedy, drama and everything in between.

”One Act is a form of theater that tries to condense a message that could be conveyed in a two hour straight play or musical into 10 minutes,” said senior Lincoln Crockett who is directing the world premier of “The Butler is Dead,” by Eli Barnes, a Belmont High graduate (2019) who wrote the work to be performed in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

See the accompanying video as Crockett goes prepares his cast for the production.

For two BHS PAC veterans who have taken up the mantel of senior director, the return to One Acts now brings new outlook to the theatrical process.

Leeza Pesok is co-directing with Giulia VecchiI “Emotional Baggage,” a one act about suitcases stuck at an airport’s unclaimed baggage counter and all the trauma and problems they go through while complaining about their lives.

“Yeah, it’s a comedy,” Pesok said.

Pesok’s fellow senior, Katie Shea, is directing “Jolly Jack Junior: The Buccaneer’s Bairn” with Talia Fiore, the tale about a pirate named Willie who has been on the hunt for someone special.

Q: What’s it like to be involved with the return of one acts after two years away?

Pesok: “My freshman year in 2019, I was in a One Act as an actor. Three years go by and, out of the blue, I’m now directing one. Seeing the production from the inside-out has given me a truly unique perspective on building a show from the bottom up as a director.

Shea: I was also in one acts my freshman year and being able to direct them now has been such a rewarding experience to see a side of production of theater that I’m not normally on.”

Leeza Pesok and Katie Shea

Q: Why did you select the plays you’re directing?

Pesok: “I just spend a couple of weeks reading different plays. And then this one just sort of jumped off the page. I could really visualize it. And I still can’t forget the moment in auditions when I heard people reading the lines for the first time after reading it for so long by myself. And it was then I just knew I made the right choice. Seeing it in rehearsals and working through it, I’m just so excited for audiences to see it.”

Shea: “When [Fiore and I] found Jolly Junior, we read the script to each other in these ridiculous British accents and we couldn’t stop laughing. We knew that this play would be so fun to produce.”

Q: Unlike a standard play or musical, one acts are known for having fairly sparse staging. How do you compensate for these limitation?

Pesok: “We don’t actually have talking suitcases on stage. The script provides a little brief description for each character – a threadbare Valise from the South or a drug smuggler’s duffel bag – and then we sort of take that and incorporate some character choices and that gives the actors a chance to make the stage come alive.”

Shea: “We were lucky enough to have plenty of pirate costumes left over from “Spongebob” [BHS PACs spring musical produced last month] so that actually worked out pretty well for us. And while we did create a minimalist pirate ship, you’ll definitely get the feel that it is one.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from your one act?

Pesok: “When you when you go through an airport, you never really think about the experiences that their bags are going through and how it must feel being carried around through your whole life. It’s cool to see all the actors connecting with different aspects of each bags life; how one was meant to go to a Realtor’s convention in Florida but got left behind and she’s so upset about it. It’s a really fun perspective to have when you just are a person and not a suitcase.”

Shea: “We’re just looking for people to have a good time and sit there and laugh for a little bit. The plot of our show is ridiculous: there’s so many made-up words in the dialogue that are supposed to be ‘pirate’ language. The actors have done an amazing job of really bringing it to life on stage. So we just hope people have fun.”

The plays include:

SURPRISE By Mark Harvey Levine
Directed by Grace Sattler
Peter’s psychic abilities are driving his date, Whitney, slowly insane.

Directed by Katie Shea and Talia Fiore
Looking for revenge, pirate Willy boards a pirate ship and demands an audience with the captain… but instead finds a secret to his past.

Directed by Emily Kaiser
The arrival of Aliens is threatening Hubbard’s long reign as Bowling League Champion.

Directed by Chris Jorgenson
Matt wants his friend Dan to get out more and meet someone special, so he sets up a double date with Heather and Annie, but Dan’s secret inner life could be a deal breaker.

1-900-DESPERATE By Christopher Durang
Directed by Claire Svetkey
Gretchen, alone on a Saturday night, impulsively calls 1-900-DESPERATE, a hotline for desperate single people. But you never know who you’ll meet on an open phone line.

Directed by Leeza Pesok and Giulia Vecchi
It’s hard to be a suitcase at the Unclaimed Baggage counter.

Directed by Naomi Stephenson
David Schwartz is the only jew stranded in the Devil’s Lake, North Dakota airport on the first night of Chanukah – until he encounters another traveler with a link to the (historically real) turn of the century Jewish homesteaders in North Dakota.

THE BUTLER IS DEAD By Eli Barnes (World Premier)
Directed by Lincoln Crockett
Several important guests show up to a business meeting at a fancy manor, only to find that murder occurs. *gasp* The butler must have done it…. But…. The butler is dead!

Final Night Of ‘One Acts’ Saturday, May 11, 4 PM, 7 PM

Photo: The poster of the show

The final night of the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s student directed “ONE ACT PLAY FESTIVAL” will be held on Saturday, May 11 with a matinee at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the High School’s Little Theater.

Join BHS-PAC for the annual Student Directed Festival of short plays. Featuring 10-minute plays directed by PAC Members, the One Acts are a mix of comedy, drama and everything in between.


Tickets are now on sale online and at Champions in Belmont Center

The plays are:

Directed by Alice Turner and Grace Christensen
Dick Piston is a world-renowned hotel detective. A guest at the hotel comes to him, distressed by the murder of her husband. Hilarity and chaos ensue.

THE BEST DADDY By Shel Silverstein
Directed by Jacob Makar-Limanov and Sam Lubarr
It’s Lisa’s birthday and she’s getting a pony…
Or is she?

THE WEDDING STORY By Julianne Homokay
Directed by Liz Biondo and Sri Kaushik
An innocent attempt at a bedtime story quickly goes astray after the tale’s characters begin to inform the storyteller that she has got the facts all wrong.

THE MIME CRIME By Jonathan Yukich
Directed by Alyssa Bodmer and Megan Bodmer
A seemingly ordinary mime appears to have a connection with recent mysterious murders in a park.

Directed by Alyssa Allen and Zoe Armstrong
The feud between the Hatplains and the McCroys has been in a slump for some time now, but perhaps a forbidden love between Romero McCroy and Julia Hatplain can get things going again.

THE GAME By Louise Bryant
Directed by Nathan Miller
Life and Death play a game of dice to decide the fates of two young people.

THE ZERO SUM MIND By Stephen Gregg
Directed By Sammy Haines
A group of people deal with the implications of the revelation that every time they learn something, they forget something else.

Three Performances Of Annual One Act Festival This Weekend At Belmont High

Photo: Poster for this year’s show.

Three chimpanzees writing “Hamlet”, four women traveling in outer space, an eccentric funeral guest and a delectable bowl of soup.

Those are the plots of eight theatrical pieces the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is presenting at its annual One Act Festival. And due to popular demand, the company will stage three performances including a Saturday matinee.

The student-directed 10-minute plays, directed by Performing Arts Company members, are a mix of comedy, drama and everything in between. For a synopsis of the plays, head over to the BHS PAC webpage. 

The performances, which are held in the school’s Little Theater, will be on: 

  • Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 12 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Adults: $12; Students: $5

Tickets are on sale online and at Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center.

All In Ten Minutes: Annual One Act Plays On Stage Friday, Saturday

Photo: The poster for the 2016 One-Act Plays.

A man falling from a plane who spends his final moments on a business call, a bedtime story that goes terribly awry and the tale of a boy becoming a man with a topsy-turvy ending you’ll see coming from miles away. 

These are just a few of the stories being presented by the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company at its annual One-Act Plays. In performance Friday and Saturday in the Little Theater at Belmont High School, the eight plays – a combination of comedy, drama, satire and romance – are directed by 11th and 12th-grade students and acted by their classmates. And each just about 10 minutes long. 

Here is a clip of “Sure Thing,” a favorite one-act play.

Performance Information:

  • Friday, May 27 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 28 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. 

Tickets: Adults: $12, Students: $5, FREE for BHS staff.

Tickets are on sale online and at Champions in Belmont Center.

Always popular, One Act Performances may sell out so buy tickets in advance. A very limited number of tickets or wait list seating will be available at the theater.

Read a synopsis of the plays here


Directed by Sophia Lubarr & Tenny Gregorian

BALTHAZAR: Oliver Leeb


Directed by Emma Giallongo & Katie MacAuley

SAMUEL: Raffi Manjikian

STACIE: Josie Cooper

DJ: Jack Merullo


Directed by Daphne Kaxiras & Katie Mabbott

SON: Sri Kaushik

DAD: Nic Neves

MRS MALBY: Miriam Cubstead

DAN TOLLISON: Patrick Bean

JENN GROUT: Maerose Pepe

MRS. TELLER: Julia Cunningham


ALIENS: Naria Sealy, Melanie Aftandilian, Kirsten Poulos


Directed by Andre Ramos & Jasper Wolf

NANCY: Molly Thomas

ANTHONY: Alex Aleksandrov

LIBBY: Lilikoi Bronson

DR. BLEDSOE: Al Hughes

AUDIENCE: Conor Bean, Giulianna Ruiz-Shah


Directed by Helena Kim & Rafi Wagner

BILL: Nick Borelli

BETTY: Nicole Thoma

BELL RINGERS: Alyssa Bodmer, Megan Bodmer


Directed by Hannah Messenger & Kyra Armstrong

PRODUCER: Tess Hayner

MAN: Danny Holt

DIRECTOR: Grace Christensen

ARTHUR: Ben Crocker

EMILY: Natalie MacKinnon-Booth

COSTUMER: Zoe Armstrong



Directed by Benjy Cunningham

LADY MAGNESIA: Olivia Pierce



PHYLLIS: Abigail D’Angelo

LANDLORD: Sam Sorensen


DOCTOR: Evan Wagner


Directed by Aaron Fairbanks & Cameron Fetter

FATHER: Clark Addis

CHILD: Sammy Haines

MOMOMO: Jocelyn Cubstead

GLABBO: Wonyoung Jang

CLOWN: Becca Schwartz

SPAMEISTER: Callie Reagan

SPAWORKER 1: Nathan Miller

SPAWORKER 2/MELINDA: Sarah Jane Henman

SPAWORKER 3/MOM: Isabella Jaen-Maisonet

TREE: Haley Brown

This (Short) Week: One Acts on Friday, Beech Street Open House, Arbor Day at the Butler

On the government side of “This Week”: 

  • The Belmont School Committee is meeting on Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School. 
  • The Warrant Committee meets on Wednesday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School to discuss transferring funds from its reserve accounts to the school department to fill the current budget deficit. 
  • The Board of Selectmen will meet on Thursday, May 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center  to be updated on the Belmont Center Reconstruction project and discuss the new “green space” in front of the Belmont Savings Bank. It will also go into executive session to discuss the sale of two parcels of town-owned land, the commuter parking lot in Cushing Square for the Cushing Village development and the lot off Woodfall Road.

Tuesday is story time at both of Belmont libraries. 
• Pre-School Story Time at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, at 10:30 a.m. Stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex. 
• The Belmont Public Library on Concord Avenue will be holding two sessions of Story Time for 2’s and 3’s, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. 

• Town Meeting members from Precincts 1 and 7 will be meeting at Tuesday, May 26,
from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library.

Choices in After-Death Care will be discussed at the Beech Street Center on Tuesday, May 26, at 1:15 p.m. Come to a program presented by Raya Gildor, president of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts for answers. What are the alternatives to conventional burial and cremation? How can I find a low-cost coffin? How can you make a funeral more meaningful and personal? Can you really keep a deceased body at home?

• The annual Beech Street Center Open House is being held on Tuesday, May 26, at 4 p.m. at the center located at 266 Beech St. This is a great opportunity in a short period of time to get a taste of what the center offers, as well as taste the light dinner refreshments sponsored by the Park Avenue Health Center in Arlington. There will be demonstrations of fitness classes and bocce, and a short concert from its singing group, the Bel Airs. Exhibits of paintings, and quilts created in quilting group will be showcased.

• The third installment of Belmont Public Library’s eCamp takes place on Wednesday, May 27, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Assembly RoomReference Librarian Joanna Breen and Technology Librarian Ellen Girouard will teach how to access the library from wherever you find yourself this summer, talk about Zinio and hoopla, and demonstrate other ways the library connects patrons to online media, in this free-flowing demonstration plus Q & A session. Enjoy snacks, practice with your device or a library laptop, and get connected to magazines, movies, music, and more. Register here or call 617-

Grade 7 & 8 Chorus and Orchestra Concert under the direction of Margot Reavey (orchestra) and Christine Moser (chorus), will be held Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m. in the Chenery Middle School auditorium. 

• Belmont Against Racism, The Belmont Human RIghts Commission, Belmont-Watertown Amnesty International and the Social Action Committee of First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist invite the public to attend a program on Thursday, May 28 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Criminal Justice Reform: “What is being done in Massachusetts to address mass incarceration?” Speakers will include State Sen. Will Brownsberger, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, State Rep. Dave Rogers and Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services. The event, which takes place at the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist, 404 Concord Ave., is free and open to the public. Parking may be limited at the church. There is more parking on the street.

• Celebrate Arbor Day with the planting of new trees this Friday, May 29, at 10 a.m. at the Daniel Butler Elementary School on White Street. All are welcome to join the students and staff. 

• The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s annual One-Act Plays take place on Friday, May 29, and Saturday, May 30, at 7 p.m. in the Little Theater at Belmont High School. The six plays – a combination of comedy, drama, satire and romance – are directed by 11th and 12th grade students with three written by BHS PAC members. All 36 actors and 60 crew members are also BHS students. It is the best night of theater in Belmont for the entire school year. Tickets: Adults: $12; Students: $5. Tickets are on sale at Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center and on-line at