Looking behind the scenes of “Is That Really Scary?”

Neuqua Theatre presents their 2020 Children's Show,

Provided by Neuqua Theatre

Augustine Gallespen, Staff Writer

Neuqua Valley High School’s theatre department presented their 2020 Children’s show, “Is That Really Scary?” released on Oct. 30th and directed by Mary Van Milligen, an English teacher at Neuqua. “Is That Really Scary” follows a precocious nine year old named Albert, played by Charlie Scriven-Young, as he interviews witches, zombies, vampires and ghosts to find out if these monsters are really that frightening.

Each year, Neuqua’s theatre department put on a family-friendly performance known as the Children’s Show. Normally, the show would be based on a prewritten show that would be adapted to the cast of that year’s show. However, the script for this year was written as a collaboration between Van Milligen and the cast. They decided that this year’s show wouldn’t follow the format of a fairy tale with a twist that previous years were based off of. Instead, they would make it scary by including zombies, witches, ghosts and vampires.

Maura White, a sophomore who played a zombie named Dr. Biters, explained the background for her character. She began, “I did my character for the zombie group to play on different zombie things so I did a zombie brain doctor.” Other cast members played characters including the witches Hermione Granger and Glinda the Good Witch. Additionally, in the ghost group there were ghosts of the past, present and future. Finally in the vampire group, Gordan Ramsey. There was not a formal audition for the roles since the cast wanted “to be inclusive to everybody and to allow everybody to have their creative ideas.”

Due to CDC guidelines, the cast was unable to meet in-person for script-making or rehearsal. Instead, they opted for Zoom rehearsals everyday after school starting on Sept. 24 and ended with their final recording on Oct. 22. For the first ten days, the cast was separated into monster groups: zombie, ghost, vampire and witch. Then in breakout rooms, the groups created their part of the story. After that, they wrote the full story, added transitions and put it together. They then rehearsed everyday after school and on Saturdays, recording and watching the videos to improve even more.

The cast did face challenges rehearsing and recording the show over Zoom. The process had both technical and general difficulties. The cast felt that they had a lot of challenges with recordings. White recalls that “during one of our practice recordings, my entire computer shut down.” She also thought, “it’s not going to work” and that the show would be “really tacky and really weird.” All of those things aside, one of the greatest difficulties was that in-person chemistry could not be replicated virtually.   

White explained the greatest challenge with recording and with the show in general was “probably being able to connect with people. When we’re in our normal show, it’s just been such an easy connection; like, you get to be with people that understand what you love and are passionate about. You get to be with these people and know and act out your role whereas when you’re at your house with people on your screen, it’s harder to connect with these people and make your characters really jive together.”

There was uncertainty whether or not the theatre department would be able to have any shows this year. White expressed that even though the cast “would have liked to be in person,” they thought that “what they did was pretty good.” Additionally, upperclassmen had the opportunity to “incorporate the new freshmen kids to Neuqua and show them the process.” One notable freshman is Charlie Scriven-Young who played Albert. He is also the younger brother of Neuqua student and fellow cast member Henry Scriven-Young. This Children’s Show gave freshmen an idea of what theatre would be like, whether virtual or in-person.

Since the show was held over Zoom, the cast was able to incorporate functions only available to the program, such as removing members or having them suddenly appear. While it may be different from a traditional show, the Zoom format allowed the show to have its own unique experience.

As a final statement about the show, White shares, “I didn’t think it was going to go very well with how it was done, but the end product is something that we all really love.” 

Congratulations to VanMilligen and the cast of the spooktacular 2020 Children’s Show, “Is That Really Scary?”. Follow https://www.nvhstheatre.com/ for updates on upcoming auditions and shows.