Uplifting theater weekend at Housy
The Lakeville Journal Editorial
Community building comes in many forms. In the Northwest Corner, there are Memorial Day parades, Fourth of July events, firehouse breakfasts, lasagna dinners, various sports to watch or take part in. All of these were canceled or dramatically changed during COVID restrictions. That’s why they are all the more meaningful for our communities as they are now finally starting to open up consistently again.
Of all such activities, the one that happened March 17 to 19 at Housatonic Valley Regional High School is one of the most fun and inclusive. That’s because this was when the annual school play was put on. Productions from the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society (HMTS), which have been happening since 2004, are open to all in the community for the very reasonable price of admission and showcase the talent and hard work of local young stars.
This year’s play by the HMTS was “Into the Woods” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It’s a unique play with a challenging score, typical Sondheim, but this troupe of young actors mastered it. This is to their credit, and also to the credit of the adults who helped them navigate it all.
The society missed having a play at all last year, and just squeezed in their 2020 play, “The Sound of Music,” before all such activities were shut down due to COVID restrictions. This truly makes this production all the more special to a very supportive audience.
This year also marks a changing of the guard, with director and production manager Michael Kevin Baldwin and choreographer Amber Cameron, among others, taking over from Lori Belter, Michael Berkeley and Pamela Chassin, who were stewards of the society for many years. To say it takes a village to create a production like those put on by HMTS is an understatement, and the many school and community members who take part in the backstage work as well as performing onstage all deserve kudos and gratitude for their contributions.
Part of the evidence of community coming together to support these young actors is the fact that the audiences are made up of all ages, from young children and their families, to friends and relatives of all those involved with the production, to older folks who see the benefits of such an uplifting project for area high school students. They were all there sharing the experience of seeing Housy students put their talents out on display.
The experience gained by working on a production like this one is invaluable moving forward, no matter if the students who take part continue in the theater. They gain self confidence, and the ability to present themselves before a group without fear, or at least with many tools to minimize that fear. They’ve surely found a new level of maturity, working as a group on a project that was certainly as challenging as it was uplifting. Presenting four performances of “Into the Woods” with such a high level of skill should make them proud of themselves, as their community is of them.