By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – Acting students are taught to trust their creative instincts. A group of students and recent graduates of Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) are learning that lesson on their own. They formed Black Box Productions, a community theater group consisting entirely of high school and college students. The group is presenting its second production, the musical comedy “Company,” for four performances: Thursday, Aug. 15, and Friday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 17, at 2 and 8 p.m., at the ARHS Small Performance Theater.
This cast of “Company” features 14 performers ages 15 to 22.
The group's three founders are serving as the show's production team. The director is Josh Telepman, a 2013 ARHS graduate, who will study acting as a freshman at Emerson College starting this fall. Stephen Tzianabos, a 2012 ARHS graduate, entering his sophomore year at Ithaca College School of Music, is the musical director. The sound and technical director is Elizabeth Cahill, a 2013 ARHS graduate, who will study theater design and technology as a freshman at Emerson College.
In June 2012, the group presented its first musical comedy, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which was also directed by Telepman.
“Starting a community theater group wasn's our original intention,” Telepman said. “We just thought it might be fun to do a show at school – and it was! The school let us use the space and funded us initially, but the entire production was run by students. “Company” is our second production, but our first as a separate entity from Algonquin.”
An advantage of a new theater group with young actors and stage crew is that they can provide a fresh energy and passion to each production. However, there can be a drawback.
“A big disadvantage is fundraising,” Telepman noted. “We'se run primarily on donations and ticket sales. Being a new group, it's hard getting people to donate because they don's know what we'se capable of doing. Thus far, we'se been able to get by on the budget we have.”
They did raise funds this past June by staging “Outside the Box: A Miscast Cabaret” at the First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist of Northborough. Cast members sang show tunes for roles that they's never play.
Telepman has acquired a resume full of acting credits, and he's enjoying his second time directing.
“One of the things I love most about directing is being surprised by my cast; seeing what they come up with on their own,” he said. “My directing style is very hands-off, if you will. I like to see what comes to them naturally, and then take that and nudge it to where I need it to be.”
“Company” tells the story of five couples and their mutual friend Robert, who's turning 35 and seems to have everything – except a committed relationship. Telepman cast Andy Hamilton to play Robert.
“Every scene is Robert with either a date or a married couple,” Telepman explained. “Something that I think really works about Andy as Robert is that he's able to automatically click with so many different people. Also, we wanted our couples to be believable as couples and make sure that they clicked well with each other. I think we were ultimately able to achieve that.”
Other cast members are Ty Andrus, David Audet Jr., Julia Baker, John Chapdelaine, Blair Drummey, Kristin Freeman, James Kuhtreiber, Max Ludwig, Ali Maynard, Lia Maynard, Katelyn Morreale, Olivia Murphy and Gabrielle Russo. Assistant director is Jack Tzianabos, lighting designer is Patrick Lachance and stage manager is Bryan Scott.
Tickets will be available at the door or can be ordered online at bboxproductions.org.
Photos/courtesy Tyler Trahan