Quince Orchard High School
A clairvoyant, a lookout, two aristocrats, twin brothers, an expecting mother, and one lifeboat. An odd band that makes up the characters of That Sinking Feeling: The Misfortunate Few, produced by Broad Run High School. In a piece by the local playwright Brant Powell, passengers from all walks of life aboard the Titanic are unceremoniously crammed together in a desperate effort to leave the sinking ship. What ensues is a hilarious struggle that showcases the power of comedy to alleviate tragedy.
The show, part of a three-act play, contained a striking main cast of six. Every single character brought new life to the comedic tone. However, some performances were particularly notable, including the posh Duff-Gordon couple, played by Adam Tamrjan and Juliann Jacobs who showcased remarkable chemistry in their refined characters. In addition, the mystical fortune-teller Madame Zora Van Zant, played by Naomi Dimberu, displayed a smartly chosen array of facial expressions which were perfectly suited for the intimate nature of a camera and commendable acting that allowed the show to retain its wit and self-awareness.
Though all of the actor's performances should be applauded for their efforts and skill, Katelyn Smith, who played both Frederick the Black, and his brother, Samuel Collins, managed to vigorously distinguish both characters from each other. The self-centered and explosive Frederick was played with a fiery passion akin to the fear from all the passengers in a way that demanded the attention of the viewer. In stark contrast, Sam was played with selflessness and generosity on a level of consistency that requires a strong understanding of acting.
Still, the chorus that winds its way through the show and unites the production is Theo Mastio. Although they worked unseen by the audience, Mastio must be praised due to their part in the direction, editing, and cinematography of the show. In the end, the editing was completed in a way that made no compromises to the quality of the show. The editing, which was undoubtedly no easy undertaking with every ten minutes of video taking approximately two hours to edit. For their efforts, special thanks must be given to the entire editing team (Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, Natalie Saint-Rossy) who managed to splice each line in a way that aided the actors while fitting within the established tone.
All that being said, the show would not be complete without the other technical elements, which included the sets, cinematography, and lighting. The sets brought a clever level of depth and grounded the show. The cinematographers filmed the actors in person which allowed for a variety of shots to be sprinkled throughout. Despite the physical filming distance between the actors, the lighting created unity between the different actors.
On the night that the Titanic sank, the band played on, even as the ship descended into the waters. Much like the iconic tale of the band aboard the Titanic, Broad Run High School's production is a triumph amidst the tragedy of a global pandemic and a tale of perseverance. Hysterical and captivating, it is a must-see and is sure to blow audiences out of the water.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
The RMS Titanic is sinking. What will happen when a misfortune teller, two twins as opposite as north and south, and a whole host of other zany personalities all jockey for a place on the first lifeboat? With a heavy dose of skilled cinematography, Broad Run High School boldly took on this first tale of That Sinking Feeling: The Misfortunate Few.
Written by Norfolk playwright Brant Powell and first performed in April 2019, That Sinking Feeling: The Misfortunate Few is a comedic take on the tragedy of the Titanic. In three parts, it tells the stories of the eclectic characters found in each lifeboat while remembering the courageous musicians who played as the ship went down.
With boyish banter, Maggie Kapczynski as John "Jock" Hume and Gabriel Saines as Percy Taylor immediately set the show's tone. A green screen and skillful editing from Theo Mastio, Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, and Natalie Saint-Rossy allowed the two actors to appear in the same place despite COVID-19 distancing restrictions. Kapczynski and Saines even maintained lines of sight, so that they appeared to be making eye contact. They had excellent chemistry and played off each other to enhance the scene's comedy. However, that lighthearted mood disappeared when Kyleigh Loy's Wallace "Wally" Hartley joined them to share that the ship was going to sink. All three violinists realized their duty with grim acceptance, shifting from comedic to dramatic in a short, emotional period.
The violinists were not forgotten after they began to play. Throughout the entire show, violin music underscored emotional beats without detracting from the actors' performances. The soft music especially assisted when Carmelita Vargas, played by Hannah Scarlatoiu, gave birth aboard the lifeboat. Boat flats constructed by Zoe Anderson, Amann Iqbal, Frank Ezui, Aiden Presley, and Jacob Metzger gave dimension to scenes filmed in front of a green screen. These set pieces were simple but effective, creating a realistic environment.
Adam Tamrjan and Juliann Jacobs as Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon brought a charismatic sense of life to their scenes, forming a single cohesive unit even as the actors were not physically near each other. In one humorous moment, Sir Duff-Gordon stomped on Lady Duff-Gordon's foot, urging her to go along with his plan. Tamrjan and Jacobs, filming their lines separately, still convincingly reacted to each other there and throughout the show. They brought a new dimension to their characters by relating to each other, showing that there was more to these two pompous aristocrats than what first met the eye.
In addition to the editing team's work in putting together each individual line, cinematographers Theo Mastio, Jannah Fawzy, and Nicholas Kaplan utilized a variety of camera angles to continue movement within the scenes. Different shot choices reinforced comic timing and dramatic moments alike, especially the close-ups used as Naomi Dimberu's Madame Zora Van Zant predicted a bright future for Carmelita Vargas's newborn baby. In that last scene, the focus on Dimberu's face allowed her pure emotions to shine through.
In That Sinking Feeling: The Misfortunate Few, the tragic tale of the Titanic was buoyed by Broad Run High School's technical success to ultimately create a humorous, yet heartwarming story.