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Falcon Quill

The student news site of Fort Worth Country Day

Falcon Quill

The student news site of Fort Worth Country Day

Falcon Quill

“Peter and the Starcatcher” Catches the Eye of Many

Hannah Cheng ’24
From left to right: McCartie McPadden ’27, Andie McGurren ’27, Ava Vanderpoel ’26, Priscilla Lambis ’25, and Aero McCormack ’25 perform in the Mermaid Dance choreographed by Natalie Bracken ’05.

“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.” 

Many middle-aged adults will recognize that line from the intro song to the popular sitcom “Cheers.” From what I can tell, this is a show where a group of people sit around and drink at a bar for the great majority of their day, therefore not giving justice to the line from the song above. If I had the choice to apply this line to just one of the several opportunities students have to get involved in at FWCD, I would hands down apply it to the production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” and the FWCD Theatre Department. “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a two-hour long play filled with dancing mermaids, several musical numbers, and a love story between a nana and a gassy servant, was no easy task to put together. Through the countless hours of work put in after school by students, faculty, and others who helped the show come to life, it wasn’t just an incredible performance that resulted, but also several friendships that will last a lifetime.

Four years ago you may have read the Falcon Quill’s most popular story “What it Takes to Pull off ‘Chicago: High School Edition,’” but now not only do we ask what it took to pull off “Peter and the Starcatcher,” but also what kind of impact the production had on all those involved. 

As expected, ‘it takes a village’ as the saying goes when it comes to putting on a production, especially one that is two hours long and involves not just acting, but also dancing and singing. Remember, this is a play. So not only did Siouxsie Easter, Upper School Theatre Director, have to direct and block scenes for 14 overly-enthusiastic, yet very tired high schoolers at eight o’clock at night, but Melanie Settle, Middle School Band Director, had to play 26 instruments; Valorie Flaherty, Middle School Art and Theatre, put together 13 mermaid tails and aprons, 14 costumes, countless props, and resew some pants less than an hour before the Friday performance; and Eric Tysinger, Scott Theatre Manager, managed the building of the set, prepared and set up lights and microphones, directed tech week, and helped with everything else in between. If that was tiring to read, then try actually doing everything you just read. 

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For Easter and Tysinger, preparations for “Peter and the Starcatcher” started long before half the cast had even considered doing the play.

“Mr. Tysinger and I chose the show back in February of 2023,…, so I start[ed] reading [the show] several times, doing research about it, figuring out what I wanted it to look like,” Easter said. “Because this was a show where the cast had to be on stage almost the entire time, nobody really got a night off, so hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours [were put into the show].”

As mentioned, this play involved more than just acting, so on top of the hundreds of hours Easter put in, Settle contributed several hours of work as well.

“What was cool about this particular score was that it oscillated between live music, underscoring and full artistry, so we were always adding something new to what was happening on stage,” Settle said. “Even from the first show to the last show, we added new music, which was really, really cool, but it also meant that I was never fully prepared.”

On top of that, Settle played 26 different instruments throughout the two-hour play, including a ukulele, which was an instrument Settle had no prior experience playing. Despite the challenges that come with playing so many different instruments, learning a new instrument, and even wearing a green, crocodile headpiece, Settle and pianist Melanie Wright, who was hired just about a month before the performances, did a spectacular job during rehearsals and all three performances.

Then there was the dancing. One of the most colorful, flamboyant, and energy-filled portions of the play was the mermaid dance, where the cast all put on mermaid costumes and sang about how the starstuff, a magical, sand like substance that ‘makes what you want to be,’ changed them, gave them a buzz, and made them want more. The following week US Guidance Counselor Katie Walker gave the senior class a talk about opioid addiction. Coincidence? I think not. In all seriousness, the dance was a hit with the audience, who were probably not expecting so much hip movement directly following intermission. Natalie Bracken ’05, Ballet and Theatre, was the mastermind behind this dance’s choreography. 

There was no dancing ability required for the Fall Play, which can present its own challenges, but in just an hour and half of selecting the choreography and one rehearsal of teaching it to the cast, Bracken created, in my opinion, one of the most memorable parts of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

“I think it’s fun when you have the excitement and the energy of everybody in the cast working hard,” Bracken said.

Speaking of memorable, let’s talk about the cast and crew. Now look, I’m biased when it comes to this. I spent many, many hours with the 13 other members of the cast and all of tech week with the crew, and I have very positive things to say about everyone, the work we put into the show, and of course the final product. But it’s not important what I, a first time participant of an Upper School Theatre production, think (yet). So why not let the cast and crew do it instead?

The entire cast lift Sean Hong ’27 (Peter) into the final pose of the performance. (Hannah Cheng ’24)

“Definitely out of all the plays I’ve been involved with, I would say number one; I really loved doing this one,” Allie Cross ’24, Stage Manager, said.

Many others ranked “Peter and the Starcatcher” highly as well and shared what made it so great. Multiple responses followed a similar pattern.

“Tech week is really hard; there’s a lot of work,” Aero McCormack ’25 said. “Sometimes it’s just standing around, but I feel like that’s when you bond with the cast the most.”

And then tech week and the cast was mentioned again.

“My favorite part is the most stressful part, which would be tech week, because everyone is just so delirious and the humor has dropped underneath the threshold, and everything is funny,” Olivia Kersh ’24 said. “There’s laughter, there’s crying, there’s a lot of intenseness, but it’s fun.”

And soon it became obvious what, or who, made the show so fantastic.

“I loved, loved, loved the set and exploring it, and I loved the cast,” Fiona Morris ’26 said. “I was a lot more close knit with this cast than the past years’ casts.”

If you haven’t yet noticed the commonality of the previous quotes, then let me explain. It’s the people. Maybe tech week is a favorite part for one person, the set for another or something else entirely for someone else, but each of these are all paired with the appreciation for the people they worked with. So not only was spending time with everyone involved in the play a fan favorite, but it’s also what many people said they would miss the most.

“I’m going to miss the people that I grew up with and who guided me through theater, which is like my favorite thing of all time,” Priscilla Lambis ’25 said.

And so emotions continued to be evoked.

“I’m going to miss the seniors,” Ava Vanderpoel ’26 said. “I’m going to miss all the little jokes that [the cast] made about the scripts and fainting at the image of sticky putting.”

And some even became attached to inanimate objects.

“I’m going to miss my mop,” Corbin Harrell ’25 said. “That was a very special mop.”

However, that wasn’t all that Harrell was going to miss.

“I’ve been with Gavin [Spikes ’24] for every play,” Harrell said. “It’s going to be pretty weird without him, a little sad.”

And it wasn’t just friends that were going to be missed.

“The Fall Play community is more connected as a group itself; it’s more like a family than like distant cousins,” Maya Marques ’26 said. “I feel like I’m talking to brothers and sisters and it’s just fun to perform with such a small group of people, because you all just get to know each other way more.”

But rather the family.

“Just like everyone said, it’s just like a big family,” McCartie McPadden ’27 said. “It was really fun to get to see everyone every day and get to joke around with people and just get to hang out with everyone.”

Family (Vin Diesel voice).

“It was people that made me love [the show] so much, and it’s sad that I don’t get to be with them every single day again,” Andie McGurren ’27 said. “I grew in my acting and me as a person in the show, so it’s going to be a little hard to not see them every day after school.”

Aero McCormack ’25 (Black Stache) is wheeled off stage so he can chase down the Neverland. (Hannah Cheng ’24)

It’s truly difficult to better express what “Peter and the Starcatcher” means to everyone than in what everybody already said above. Everyone’s perspective on it is going to be slightly different. For me, this is the way I see it.

I’ve been a part of several sports teams, performed in many band concerts, taken ballet classes for six years, and have spent the last 12 years of school with many of the same people. But none of that compares to the connections I made with everyone involved in the 2023 Fall Play. Going into the last day of the performance, I didn’t expect to cry. I’m not really an emotional person in that regard. But an hour before the show, when we were all together doing our traditions, that’s when it hit me. I still didn’t shed a tear (yet), but I got close. Closer than I had expected. I didn’t know a lot of my castmates very well before I decided to do the play. But after two and a half months of laughing, joking, messing around with, and occasionally working on the play with everyone, it really did feel like we were a family. I had never felt this way about a group of people I wasn’t biologically related to before. Even when I took my final official ballet class with the people I had spent six years doing performances with, I never felt as heartbroken as I did when I realized everyone in the play would never be all together again after that last performance (Not that I don’t miss ballet and the people I did ballet with, I still love y’all. I don’t want any riots to start here).

The following day I admittedly cried a little; I already missed it. And I still missed it the following day. And the next. And the next. And the next. And even now, it still hurts a little that I don’t get to stick around at school until 8:30 at night and forget, even if it is for just two hours, about the Biology test I failed, the bad day of serving I had, or even about the lack of sleep I was running on. 

I guess the reason it hurt was because there was never a day I was unhappy being at rehearsal. As the line from the song from “Cheers” goes, I was always glad I came.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” was a terrific show. No doubt about it. Ask anyone who saw the show, they will tell you the same thing. But for everyone involved, it was more than a terrific show. It was a family. A family that will be missed, but never forgotten.

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About the Contributor
Benjamin Hoppe, Co-Editor in Chief
Hi everyone. I am Benjamin Hoppe, a senior, and co-editor in chief. In case you have been living under a rock, my favorite thing in the whole wide world is tennis (just take a look at what the common theme in most of my stories is). It is my fourth year on staff so I've had the opportunity to write plenty of tennis stories. When I’m not playing tennis or watching Formula 1 Racing, you can find me training to be first at the Oktoberfest Bike ride. This year varsity tennis is winning SPC Champions courtesy of muah in honor of Mr. Sil’s 5-year plan. You will also catch me taking over Andrea’s and Chris’s job of yelling “hey freshmen” every other Thursday. Kachowwww! [email protected]

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