(From left to right) Nicole Swords, Alan Koolik, Matthew Merrigan, Alexandra Fouquet, and Matthew Dardet perform one of the opening scenes when Buddy Layman shows his unique talent. (via Ava Goldstone/Freshman)
On February 27th
, Pine Crest Fine Arts presented The Diviners,
a play by Jim Leonard Jr arranged by Samuel French. Both performances were planned to occur on the Morris Family Courtyard arena stage at night, but unfortunately due to weather, the Saturday night performance was held inside of Stacy Auditorium. Both nights, whether under the bright stage lights or under the starry sky, the audience was enraptured by a fantastic cast and production.
Mrs. Ortega, the director of the production, could not have said it better when describing the play as "a story of love, family, and community set in a time in our nation's history when these things were hard to find. While the Great Depression ravages and divides the rest of the country, the people in this simple Indiana community weather the storm." The show begins with a "charismatic, but disillusioned preacher," C.C. Showers, played by Tommy Sullivan, who meets the confused and often mixed up, Buddy Layman. Buddy, played by senior Alan Koolik, has a talent for divining or water witching, which is locating groundwater without a scientific tool. Because Buddy suffered from a accident where he nearly drowned and lost his mother, he fears the water, yet ironically, welcomes his ability to find water. As Buddy searches for water to revive his town from the dry spell, C.C. Waters searches for water to heal Buddy. As they move forward in the process, they "unearth not only water, but also hope."
Altogether, the play was truly spectacular. From witty humor to incredible acting, the play could not have run any better. Throughout the play, the audience was on the edge of its seat. The final scene was sealed with Jordana Brody's exquisite rendition of "Amazing Grace," under the character of Norma Henshaw.
Tommy Sullivan put on an extremely talented performance perfectly taking on the complicated dynamic role of C.C. Showers; surprisingly, it was Sullivan's first play. Right by Sullivan's side throughout the night was the other protagonist, Buddy Layman. Alan Koolik's shocking ability to perfect the speech, accent, strange twitches and movements of Buddy was truly a spectacle definitely worthy of commendation. Although Koolik’s performance was a tough act to follow, even the minor characters put in maximum effort to make sure the entire cast were fully engaged and working together. Other cast members included Ginger Hollander, Noey Boldizar, Brian Meller, Ellie Botoman, and Alexandra Foquet; every student’s performance was uniquely stellar.
Sophomore Tara Schulman had one of the best performances out there acting with great dramatic body language, speech inflection, and facial expressions as Jennie Mae Layman, Buddy's caring sister who had a love connection with C.C. Showers. The audience could really feel the emotion of the entire cast as they all worked perfectly in sync, putting together what may be one of the greatest plays ever performed by Pine Crest students.
With an extremely diverse and unique cast, Mrs. Ortega surely had great students to work with. Matthew Dardet, sophomore, recalled his learning experience from taking part in the play, “All of the rehearsals were really entertaining, and I learned many new facts and pieces of information regarding acting techniques.” Nicole Swords, a senior who played the vibrant and loud role of Matt Dardet’s wife, Luella, shared her excitement about the play, “My favorite part was probably doing warm ups right before our first show because it was a great cast bonding experience. As for my favorite scene, I loved doing the slow-mo death scene because it was like nothing I’ve done before.” Matt and Nicole worked really well together, both completely embodying their characters through accents, movement, and personality.
When asked about the issues of weather, light showers and wind, Mrs. Ortega had an emphatic response, “Of course, weather is an issue! But also the weather is an unacknowledged character in the play. Take Friday night, for instance, the mist and the wind played a major role in the tension. It was beautiful. We need to take advantage of our Florida skies and the campus because clearly they make the best and natural setting. But, the weather has caused a lot of anxiety because of the unpredictability. I believe in this cast and the magic they create whether they are inside or outside, they know how to tell this story in a compelling way.” It can definitely be stated that this show will be remembered by all who had the chance to witness this truly special night on the stage.