The "official" Brien McMahon High School Drama Department was ended several years ago. At its peak, The Drama Department was producing "professional" productions like the cross-town rival, Norwalk High, is doing today. However, the department was disbanded and no musicals or plays were produced for some time. In 2003, Brien McMahon began to expand the number of after school activities to get students involved in the community. This is when "All Down Drama" was formed.
All Down Drama was a new club that provided a comprehensive theatrical experience for students and supported language and literacy. It began as a student centered theater group coached by parents. Members of the school's faculty served in advisory roles. The students named the group (All Down Drama) and created the logo. The club learned about the theater through games, improv, and scene work. From 2003 to 2004, All Down Drama produced plays. Some productions include: "A Day in New York" (a student developed, written, and produced performance), "Curtin Flirtin: A Series of Scenes and Short Plays," and "Shakespeare by the Pond; Snippets of Shakespeare." With these performances, a new age of live theater returned to McMahon.
For The Spring of 2013, Director Frank Arcari choose "Guys And Dolls" as the Drama Club's next major musical production. The story of risk, reward, choices, and how true love can always overcome differences, “Guys and Dolls” was an extremely fitting production that pulled together everything the Drama Club had done up til then as well as incorporated the strong array of Upperclassmen as well as Underclassmen talent. “Guys and Dolls” received strong attendance numbers and an extremely positive reception. The show also solidified the Drama Clubs future with a strong performance by the underclassmen in the form of the Sophomores as well as some exceptional and surprising performances by many Freshman. Surprisingly, all but Four of the lead characters were played by upperclassmen; a fact that bodes very well for McMahon Drama Clubs future.
Going into the fall of 2011, the Drama Club was in dire straits concerning its funding. Faced
with "very little" in the Clubs account, and needed on
average $30,000 to perform an “extremely well-put together” production,
Drama Club members were given a choice to either come together and fund-raise, or to not have a production for the year. Coming together, through both extremely effective fundraising as well as through extremely generous donations (some as high as $15,000), the Drama Club witnessed to date its strongest fundraising boost to date. Fitting to the challenge of having to start from nothing, director Frank Arcari saw fit that the production should reflect the Drama Club’s efforts. Perhaps the most challenging production of late, both in concerning the cost, logistics, and the actual production itself, the 2012 Spring Drama Club production of “West Side Story” was perhaps the perfect symbol of both the Drama Clubs diversity as well as the triumph of the Club in the face of adversity. The production performed at Brien McMahon was a testament to the skill, devotion, and all-out love both Drama Club members as well as patrons had for the craft of musical theatre.
For the fall of 2010 it was decided that Drama Club would preform “The Crucible”, a drama written by Arthur Miller which dwells into the events of the controversial “Salem Witch Trials”. The show featured strong performances from both a veteran Junior and Senior Class as well as a very promising Freshman and Sophomore’s as well. In the Spring of 2011, it was decided that with so much talent available, only a Broadway Revue would suffice. The show, aptly named “Way Off Broadway” featured songs from both some of the biggest Broadway as well as past (and possibly even future) Drama Club productions. Such offerings included works from "Les Misèrables", "The Phantom of The Opera", as well as many others. “Way Off Broadway” also marked the first time that the Drama Club performed a Broadway Revue of any kind; both before and after its revival in 2005.
In the fall of 2009, it was announced that the Drama Club would be performing “A Winter’s Tale”, a comedy written by William Shakespeare. The Spring featured the Broadway hit musical, “The Music Man”, written by Meredith Willson. The show revolves around a con man, who in an effort to swindle money promises to teach all who buy his instruments how to play them. The Con man is eventually wooed over by the local librarian, who “sees right through him”; forming the shows main conflict, and source of comedy as well. The 2009-2010 School Year saw an even greater growth of the Brien McMahon Drama Club. Both productions also garnered significant attendance numbers as well as demonstrated the flexibility and skill of the Drama Department to both preform fairly Modern and Shakespearean-style productions with the same skill found in many Colligate performances.
In the fall of 2008, it was announced that the Drama students would perform works by Edgar Allen Poe. This show was "Night Chills" and it comprised of a few short stories of terror. Famous stories portrayed were: "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter." 2008 also marked the year when the All Down Drama Club was replaced with a new "Drama Club" The Drama Club's purpose is to provide an atmosphere of community bonding through performance. The Spring featured Cinderella, the wonderful masterpiece written by the renounced playwrights Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein. “Cinderella” marked the first time the Drama Club performed a Roger and Hammerstein play in its still young history. The show also received, like “Into the Woods”, record attendance numbers and solidified the Brien McMahon Drama Club as a respectable and capable performance group.
In the Spring of 2007, All Down Drama partnered with the Musical Theatre of Connecticut. This marked the return of the "Spring Musical." With MTC, All Down Drama produced the Broadway performance of "Grease." The production raised funds for the club and it was the start of yearly productions at the school. These productions will now be produced by the Music Department in conjunction with the All Down Drama Club. In the fall of 2007, the Drama Club choose “The Canterbury Tales” as its next major production. The show marked the first time that the pit orchestra was comprised entirely of Brien McMahon Students. In the spring of 2008, the Drama Department produced the production of “Into the Woods.” This marked the first time that the All Down Drama Club produced a musical without any major outside assistance. Chorus teacher Frank Arcari headed the project. Into the Woods was very successful and marked at that time, record attendance.
In The Beginning...
In the Spring of 2005, All Down Drama introduced teacher Sky Livingston to
the Club’s advisory board. Livingston became a
director and helped produced the heart-wrenching drama "The Girl in the
Mirror." He returned in 2006 to bring the light-hearted comedy,
"Scapino!" to the Brien McMahon stage. The club continued to build
community partnerships since it was started. In 2006, the club was asked to
send 8 members of the club to perform an anti-bullying program for middle
school students with Shakespeare on the Sound. The club also has partnered with
the Westport Country Playhouse (Westport, CT) and the Maritime Aquarium (Norwalk, CT)
to have club members perform dramatic readings for elementary school students.
PAST DRAMA CLUB PRODUCTIONS
2012-2013-Spring-Guys And Dolls
2011-2012-Spring-West Side Story
2010-2011-Spring-Way Off Broadway
2009-2010-Spring-The Music Man
Fall-The Winter's Tale
2007-2008-Spring-Into The Woods
Fall-The Canterbury Tales
Shows in bold denote musical performances!
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Brien McMahon High School
300 Highland Ave, Norwalk CT 06854