McLean High School
"Be the brightest box." In the time of Zoom communication, it can be difficult to stand out, but in Langley High School's "The Party Hop" each actor had a moment in the spotlight.
"The Party Hop" is a quarantine-era one-act by Natalie Margolin that epitomized the timely concern of socializing while social distancing. The play followed friends Ava and Emma, joined by newcomer Nancy, as they jumped from one Zoom party to another and encountered challenges along the way. Tensions ran high between the trio, friendships were questioned, and a mission was formed: for Ava to experience her first kiss by the end of the night. The realistic and relatable struggle of finding togetherness when we are so far apart was brought to life by the performance, complete with charmingly awkward silences and endearing moments of technical lag.
Talia-Rose Diorio artfully portrayed Nancy, the transfer student with a touch of mystery in her past. The attention-seeking character was energetically depicted by Diorio who employed expressive hand gestures and quick-witted line timing to encapsulate the lively personality of her character. Diorio also added layers to Nancy through her performance, but the wall that was built was quickly torn down in the honest moments Diorio spent alone on screen. Despite Nancy being a "background changer," Diorio found levels to the character and authentically represented the difficulties of being the outsider.
The bubbly and kind-hearted Emma, played by Abhaya Tyrka, and the apprehensive yet amusing Ava, played by Tess Jannery-Barney, were the dynamic pair that grounded the show. Together Tyrka and Jannery-Barney had a fast-paced back and forth, portraying their characters as the best of friends by either speaking in sync or finishing each other's sentences. Friendship is complex however and Tyrka and Jannery-Barney skillfully maneuvered the more emotional moments between their characters. Tyrka and Diorio also held subtly sweet connections as Emma and Nancy explored how to navigate feelings over a Zoom call. The trio's individually compelling performances made each character stand out in their journey.
With ease, Jannery-Barney portrayed Ava's mission as she put up a facade to impress her romantic interest, Jackson (Nicolas Kristensen). As Ava leaned in to kiss the disinterested Jackson and was swiftly rejected, the crushing defeat was depicted naturally by Jannery-Barney, who broke down in an emotional state, and pulled off the wig that she had used to shield her true self.
Moments of jest were included through a scene at a cocktail party where Nora (Gabriella Sanchez), Nathan (Gunnar Peacock), Victoria (Isabella Montesinos Davis), and Denise (Siannen Keough) were adults who had muted arguments and humorous struggles with technology. The group illustrated the socialization that everyone has missed through the pandemic, regardless of age.
Elizabeth Tippens directed "The Party Hop" and her building of a cohesive ensemble enabled a strong performance. Her inclusion of awkward pauses and fluid timing felt planned, and the disjointed feeling of Zoom calls was summarized perfectly. Even the camera angles were individual and provided insight into the technological abilities of each character. The show was expertly edited by Phia Colabatistto who crafted natural transitions and well-placed music. Her editing allowed the party to "hop" from one scene to the next, true to the play's title.
Between the delightful friendships portrayed to the all too realistic Zoom lag, Langley High School made audiences want to "kiss the screen" with their stellar interpretation of "The Party Hop."
Annandale High School
Grab your blue wig and get ready for a night "out" with Langley High school's "The Party Hop!" Directed by junior, Elizabeth Tippens, The Party Hop centers around three college sophomores, Ava, Emma, and Nancy. They're getting ready to bounce to and from a couple of parties when they discover Ava has never kissed anyone. Shocked by the news, Emma and Nancy insist that tonight is the night they'll make it happen. Will she succeed, given their circumstances? Probably not. But with their goofy antics and somewhat strained relationships, anything can happen.
Ava, played by sophomore Tess Jannery-Barney, with her snarky remarks and fiery energy truly brought balance and loads of humor to this chaos-packed show. She played Ava seemingly with ease and helped to carry the show. Her slow descent into madness and eventually her breakdown was done very well, and the breakdown was believable yet hilarious. She was also able to give her scene with Jackson (Nicolas Kristensen) the awkward and uncomfortable energy needed to convey the story. She truly stood out overall.
The audience very much enjoyed the performances of Emma (Abhaya Tyrka) and Nancy (Talia-Rose Diorio). Nancy with her high energy and silly nature kept the show intriguing. Diorio played the new-girl aspect of her very well. The audience could tell she just wanted to fit in and to be liked. Something to which everyone can relate. Tyrka played off the other girls very well as Emma. She could be seen trying so hard to be the glue, conflicted because Ava was her best friend, but as the audience finds out, she also has feelings for Nancy. Tyrka did an impeccable job of hinting at this and playing the build-up until she admits it to Ava. Their performances were very impressive.
The tech was creative yet simple. There were plenty of innovative additions in this production. The editor Phia Colabatistto did an incredible job. Everything was cohesive and clean. They also created an entire website for tickets, cast and crew bios, and an about section which was very well thought out. The director is junior, Elizabeth Tippens. Directing is a difficult and complex task but Tippens took charge and really brought the cast and crew together to make a well-oiled production.
Overall, Langley's The Party Hop was a fun, hilarious, show with great acting and technical aspects from everyone that reminded the audience that anyone can be the life of the party, even if the party is a zoom meeting.