by Sahana Rao (’26) | November 18, 2022
This fall, Saint Francis put on a production of The Sparrow. Audiences watched as lead actress Maria Ana (’23) played Emily Book, a high school girl who secretly has magical powers. Emily moves back to her old town after a traumatic bus accident many years ago killed everyone in her second grade class. Due to her dark past, Book is insecure and struggles to adjust. Yet she begins to fit in with the help of Mr. Christopher, her charismatic biology teacher played by William Mangan (’24); Jenny, a spirited cheerleader played by Kara Merkert (’24); and the kind-hearted family that takes her in. However, as things quickly go awry, Emily must face her past and figure out how to use her powers to heal her community, instead of destroying it even further.
“The play has so many experiences that students go through today: bullying, acceptance, perception and so much more,” said Director Laura Rose, “I felt so much emotion for the various characters.” The characters were all three-dimensional: each had a different story to tell, something the audience could empathize with. For example, “Emily carries a burden from her past,” Ms. Rose described. “I was moved by her courage to come back to her hometown and confront her demons.” The play was heart wrenching, but had its heartwarming moments as well. “There are so many twists and turns in this show,” said newcomer Bella Sandoval (’26). “There are times when this show will make you laugh out loud, even make you want to get out of your seat and dance!”
A lot of preparation and effort went into bringing the play to life. Ms. Rose described how the crew “[was] able to stretch its imagination and create so many different types of moments on stage.” She explained how the cast was able to constantly make improvements to parts of the play as they continued rehearsing. All the scenes were very creative, including a few dancing scenes, some in the air, and one with moving pigs! Ana said, “We’ve been wanting to do a drama for a while now, so it felt really rewarding to get all the emotional scenes down. During a scene with Emily and her foster mom, I would get up and do it and be shaking all over after it was done.”
Behind the scenes of The Sparrow, the tech crew had a lot to program. One major part of the play was figuring out Emily’s magical powers, namely, her flying. Kate Vandehey (’24), a fly operator, said, “The fly system is how we brought in a banner during some of the gym scenes and raised two of the actors up during the show.” Many scenes also included a lot of dramatic lighting changes. Lighting designer Claire Florio (’24) explained, “I program all of the lights that you see on stage. This was my first year designing the lights, [so] I had to go through a lot of trial and error.” However, the crew also found every step of the process incredibly rewarding. “I was present from day 1 of rehearsal,” stated rehearsal assistant Mouli Chopra (’24), “so I have seen every scene of the play reach perfection. Watching the actors’ hard work pay off was special.”
In addition to the technical aspect, costumes were also extremely important and were designed by Ana, who was also the lead actress and a student director. “I really wanted to try stuff behind the scenes as well, not just on stage,” she said. “Mrs. Carroll saw that I had an eye for how you should look on stage, so she trusted me in taking care of costumes.” Danica Coloma (’25) also worked on costumes, saying, “I constantly need[ed] to figure out the styles of certain characters, the scenes, and the show itself to suit the needs of costumes.”
In the end, everything was executed beautifully: the tech, costumes, set, choreography, and acting. It was enjoyable to watch, but moreover, the play was a reminder for students to be brave and hopeful despite all the scary things occurring in the world. “Emily and the entire town had to find a way to face their fears directly and move on,” Ms. Rose summarized. Hopefully, this play can inspire us all to use our own powers to face our struggles.