The Los Altos High stage last week transformed into a time machine, bringing audience members from one destination to the next in the Broken Box Theatre Company’s three-hour season finale performance.
The show, “Never Mind What Happened, How Did It End?” was also director Nancy Moran’s final show before her retirement.
“I’m excited but also it’s pretty bittersweet as well,” said Moran, drama teacher and Broken Box director of 27 years prior to the production. “There’s a little bit of anxiety with it too. You know, trying to just make everything go the way I want for the very last show.”
The comedy follows 18-year-old Ann’s struggles in convincing her family to let her move in with her boyfriend; Ann’s mother, Donna, and her snobbish movie-star grandmother, Penny Loring, reminisce on their experiences in similar situations at that age.
The show features frequent flashbacks, creating the need for not only one, but three actors to play grandmother Penny Loring: one for each stage of her life.
“[The three actresses] trying to really match their mannerisms and the way they carry themselves on stage has been fun to watch,” Moran said.
This brought on challenges of its own for the actors, as they each needed to encompass Penny’s physicality differently without straying too far from her character, Moran said.
There’s one scene where all three versions of Penny are on stage at the same time, something that, according to Moran, required intricate planning so as not to mix up characters and their respective time periods.
“I’d say the biggest challenge is when you have these three different moments in time happening at the same time; one side of the stage is 1927, in the middle, it’s 1976 and [on the right] it’s 1964,” Moran said. “Making sure they have to stay in their world — in their moment has been probably the biggest challenge.”
Another challenge for the cast members was the short timeline they had to work with. Cast members normally have a couple of months to rehearse, but this time around, they only had a five-week turnaround to get the show up and running as the theater company’s last performance, “Up The Down Staircase,” showed in early March.
“It’s just come really fast and I think we all weren’t ready for it. We didn’t realize the calendar was creeping up on us,” said sophomore Abby Camp, who plays Ann, in an interview prior to the showing. “It was difficult getting everything together [and] memorizing our lines but I think near the end, we’re really pulling it together and it’s really becoming a show.”
In preparation for the show, the cast decorated the theater, stringing balloons and ribbons on railings and taping up cast member photos on the walls.
Once the curtain call concluded, actors lined up on stage and, through sniffles, delivered speeches, leaving not only themselves and Moran crying, but the audience too. Some of Moran’s former students sat in the first row, showing their support for her.
“Ms. Moran is literally like a second mother,” said junior Sarah Schill, who plays a nurse and wedding guest. “[She] has definitely taught me to be confident in myself and that what I say is important.”
Sophomore Aarthi Venkatraman said Moran has been more than just a teacher: She’s inspired Aarthi and allowed her to grow as an actor.
“Watching the student who has the passion for theater, but maybe hasn’t had a lot of experience in it and seeing them grow and go on stage for the first time and just nail a role — the confidence that they see in themselves and just how that makes them want to do more: That is always the greatest gift,” Moran said.