New Paltz High School Theatre Department Is Back Onstage With “Alibis”

The New Paltz Theatre High School's Theatre Program performed "The Alibis." It was a great success. Photo courtesy of Hudson Valley One.

Although there were some physical parameters due to COVID-19 protocols, the young thespians of the New Paltz High School Drama Club still performed their rendition of The Alibis to its full, lively extent during their three day run of the show, which debuted on Friday, Nov. 14. 

The show is centered around the murder of eccentic billionaire J. Leslie Arlington and the clueless, egotistical detective who is tasked with interviewing possible suspects, all seemingly reluctant to admit their alibis. The plot twist — all of the characters were engaged in other, ridiculous crimes at the time of the murder, so they must tip-toe around the questions in order to keep themselves safe!

“I love how dramatic and over-the-top the entire show is,” said fourth-year student and co-president of the drama club, Anna Adams. “You don’t have to pull back on anything, you can be as crazy as you’d like to be.” 

The students still had to wear clear masks, which posed some issues with the microphones and sound, but nonetheless they had their audiences keeled-over laughing in their seats at this newly published, vivacious comedy. 

Broken up into eight separate, 10-minute segments, each scene shows an entirely new group of characters, acting out what they were doing at the time of the murder, completely unrelated to the original plotline. Adding to the unusuality of the show is the fact that each segment can be displayed in any order, leaving it up to the performing troupe when and how the murder is revealed. 

Each segment was written by a different playwright, all of whom are affiliated with the Playscripts Publishing Group, giving the scenes their own flair and style of humor. The cast had only performed seven out of the eight original scenes, leaving out “Mill Noir” by Jonathan Dorf. However, “Attempted Theft of a Confection from a Minor” by Patrick Greene, “Davina Arlington Wants Revenge” by Tyler Dwiggins, “Hamster Murder!” by Ian McWethy, “Badger Poison” by Kathryn Funkhouser, “In Case of Fish” by Jason Pizzarello, “The Incredible Season Finale” by Mora V. Harris and “I Did It!” by Carrie McCrossen were all seen, and loved, by the audience. 

With 65 kids having shown up to the first drama club meeting at the beginning of the school year, the setup of the show gave the director, Nancy Owen, flexibility with casting. 

“Usually when you’re doing a straight show, you have X number of people that can be in it. With a musical, you can add more because you have an ensemble. So this show offered more possibilities because I didn’t know from COVID-19, who was gonna turn out and who wasn’t,” said Owen. “When I saw this show, it afforded me an opportunity to add some smaller characters in.”

Having skipped out on their fall 2020 show due to COVID restrictions, the group was eager to get back on stage in a more traditional manner. The spring 2021 musical, Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” did go on, however the students were subjected to more harsh guidelines regarding what they could and couldn’t do on stage. The resilient group of actors and actresses at New Paltz High School did not let these inconveniences stand in their way, and found clever methods of incorporating masks and social distancing into the storyline. 

Adams recalled, “There’s the one scene where the baker’s wife and the prince had to kiss, and they had the masks on, but they also had to kiss through a plexiglass screen.” Owen added, “It got comical.” 

Getting around the COVID-19 restrictions mustn’t have been easy, but this close-knit troupe used their shared experiences to bond and learn how to work with each other in a new environment. Delia Nocito, fourth-year student and fellow co-president, said, “Some of the best friends I’ve made in high school are in this club, because you have to really be close with your co-stars in order to have a good show, so it is definitely reflected on stage.”

On opening night, it was announced that the spring musical for New Paltz High School is going to be “The Theory of Relativity,” and from what we’ve seen from this talented and dedicated group of thespians, it’s going to be another can’t-miss event!