Garcia '19 and Volonnino '19 Among Award Recipients at Annual Bucks County Competition
Kayla Leonard '20
10 May 2019
On April 4, the Theater Department traveled to New Hope, Pennsylvania for their annual Bucks County Playhouse field trip. Ms. Caren Atamian’s Clue was performed, along with the debut of Ms. Jennifer Shue’s The Addams Family. This year, PV brought home 3 awards - Best Vocal Performance: Gabriella Volonnino ‘19 (Addams Family), Best Comedic Actor: Marc Garcia ‘19 (Clue), and Best Musical Ensemble (Addams Family).
The Bucks County trip has been an ongoing tradition for the Theater Department for many years. Bucks County Playhouse hosts a multi-week high school student theater festival that has been in operation for over fifty years. Several schools showcase portions of their productions throughout the course of the festival. Each school’s play and/or musical are shortened into twenty minute performances to be watched and critiqued by a panel of theater professionals.
Along with performing on the historic Bucks County Playhouse stage and receiving professional feedback, students are also given the opportunity to participate in various workshops in the morning to expand their theatrical skills. These workshops include dance, acting, stage combat, and even technical classes, primarily for stage managers who can learn essential sound and set-up skills for show preparation.
The competition also serves as a source of inspiration for future theater productions. Students oftentimes give their input about shows they are interested in and would like to perform.
“Seeing other performances is huge because you get to see what other high schools are doing, you get to learn new shows, and what I find to be most rewarding for the kids is they get to meet students from other schools,” said Shue.
One workshop entitled “Mamma Mia Disco Dance,” where students danced in pairs, was a big hit. The dance required a partner switch-up and participants were able to interact with students from other schools.
Garcia felt winning Best Comedic Actor was a validating moment in his life. “It was something unexpected and those accomplishments usually are the best,” he stated. “It reassured me that I was doing something right!” Despite being particularly nervous for this year’s show, he managed to deliver an outstanding performance.
Garcia plans to further his career and study theater at Wagner College in the upcoming fall. “Sometimes I feel as if there’s nothing else I would be able to excel in and have a great time doing,” he said.
Volonnino was also thrilled to receive the Best Vocal Performance award among serious competition, following her achievement last year as Best Female Performance in the production Freaky Friday. In preparation for her role as Wednesday Addams, she had to focus on the distinct qualities of her character. “I had to really get into a dark mindset to prepare for Wednesday, but also keep in mind that she is love struck and chipper, which is really different than her usual persona,” said Volonnino ‘19. “So it was really a lot of balancing the two and making sure they both came through on stage.”
Preparation for the performances can be quite tough when trying to cut down two and a half hour shows into the best twenty minutes. In fact, the productions this year were especially difficult because rehearsals for The Addams Family began in March, which gave the theater students only a month of preparation for the musical. Nevertheless, the crew managed to execute a spectacular, professional performance for both the judges and the audience.
“I actually felt that this was one of our best years at Bucks County,” said Shue. “There was something about the kids on the stage, it was the most energy that they had, they had the most fun [...] and the kids were really just the best I had seen them on stage.”