The Hawk Pride Players at Cardinal O’Hara High School are once again experiencing an opportunity to join live theater, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“Little Women” by Louisa Mae Alcott was chosen by the students as the 2021 fall play. The story of four March girls – Jo (Brigid Benson, Class of 2022), Meg (Emily Meidel, ’22), Beth (Olivia Francis, ’23) and Amy (Elizabeth Gerwitz-Dunn, ’22) and their lives at the time of the Civil War – is the heart of the play.
The March family lives in poverty and learns to bear their burdens cheerfully. At the end of the play, with the family happily gathered together, each sister is thankful for her blessings and for each other.
Others in the cast include Emily Lyman, ’22, as Marmee; Lizzie Kane, ’25, as Aunt March; Kimorah Menifee, ’25, as Hannah; Kolton Muldowney, ’23, as Theodore Laurence; Dylan Flint, ’25, as John Brooke; Rhys Mandaville, ’22, as Mr. Laurence; and Mateo Curtis, ’22, as Father.
Stage crew members are Kelly Brown, Brandon Mannella, Maxwell Hendershot, Wilson Hendershot, Nolan Hickey, Jacob Jaldos, Bethany Mandaville, Michael Palmeri and Heather Reed.
The performances, the first at Cardinal O’Hara High School’s Performing Art Center since a new stage and front curtain were installed, are scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 19 and 2 p.m. Nov. 20.
The fall play joins the annual spring musical, expanding the drama and performance opportunities for students.
The show is directed by Lori Panaro, O’Hara’s English teacher and drama club moderator. She is assisted by Lyn Porcelli, O’Hara chemistry teacher, who directs the stage crew as well as students who work on sets and costumes.
“Having a fall play introduces a theater program for those who can’t sing or dance but want to do theater,” Panaro said. “I’m excited for the students and surprised by the number of students who signed up.”
Principal Mary Holzerland said, “Mrs. Panaro’s degree in theater from Niagara University as well as her MBA in education and administration more than qualifies her for the current role as director.”
In addition to teaching, Panaro is a well-known actress at area at the Niagara Regional Theater Guild and the Lancaster Opera House.
“Our talented and enthusiastic student performers are thrilled to be back on our beautiful stage to bring Louisa May Alcott's wonderful work to life,” Holzerland said. “Our entire school community looks forward to our fall drama and is excited to unveil our recent performing arts renovations to area theatergoers in a safe and socially distant manner.”
Drama club officers are Caden Tag, president; Brigid Benson, vice president; and Jacqueline Appenheimer, secretary.
“Having a strong theater program is more than just putting on a show,” Panaro said. “It teaches self-confidence, imagination and a sense of working together – it’s a whole process.”
Tickets are $5 available at the door.