The Apparent Trap captivates audiences

You see them everywhere lining the walls of McInnis, on the bulletin boards around campus, and even on the inside of bathroom stalls. And if you’re anything like me, when you see these posters and flyers for school plays you make a determined decision to finally go to one of those shows. But the demands of school, work and need for sleep often trump even the best laid plans to attend said productions.

Thursday, February 3 was the grand opening night of Yes! And…’s production of “A Winter Sort of Thing: The Apparent Trap.” I am proud to say I was in attendance, and it was worth the effort and $5 admission charge.

The jovial, “far-out” play employed production techniques that were clever and engaging. They kicked off the story using graphics created by those nearly forgotten, all but obsolete overhead projectors that you may remember from fourth-grade, circa 1999. The story detailed the effervescent, whimsical Beatrice, played by 13-year-old Shoshi Greenberg – who learned her role in three days in order to replace the former Beatrice – and her far more practical (albeit entertaining) classmates Jerry (Demitre Rodriguez) and Brian (’10 Eastern alum Kevin Monaghan).

A science class project sends them to “the other side of the sky,” where they make a desperate attempt to reunite the estranged children of Mother Nature and Father Time (Jonica Kinney and Brandon Rexrode, both Eastern alumni).

The play was produced by Yes! And…, an organization that hosts summer camps and script writing workshops for children in the Philadelphia area. With more than 60 camps around Philadelphia, Yes! And… has been actively involving children in the play-making process for 13 years. Children from all over the Philadelphia and Radnor area were actively involved in every aspect of the play, making for an enthusiastic effort and entertaining result.

Michael Brix (‘98), one of the  co-founders of Yes, And… has been working to develop this annual production since he was approached by Mark Hallen, director of Eastern theatre, four years ago, and A Winter Sort of Thing was born. This year, Brix took on the roll of marketing and design, education director and a line and acting coach, as well as the part of Janitor Brown in the show.

Jake Miller (‘01), another co-founder of the Yes, And… company, was the director of “The Apparent Trap.” With his experience as a professional actor and director, Miller was able to guide the actors, from ages seven or eight to eighteen, as well as college students and other professionals, toward the main production goal.

“Sometimes it was hard because the team was working to make art together collaboratively,” Miller said. However, he counts the collaborative product as extremely rewarding.

Sarah Butts-Manzo (‘99), another co-founder of Yes, And…, composed the music for this year’s Winter Sort of Thing. Her inspiration in the music is found “using (Brooke Sexton’s) lyrics. I use what she had in mind when she wrote the words,” Butts-Manzo said.

Natalie Cisternas (‘08) was also involved in the music for the production. She conducted for the first full pit orchestra that Winter Sort of Thing has seen. Cisternas said that being the conductor has been very rewarding. “We became like family,” Cisternas said. “Working with Eastern students was amazing.”

A recent graduate from Eastern, Monaghan has been involved with Winter Sort of Thing since its beginning. He started as an assistant stage manager and began working with Yes, And…’s summer camps. This year, he orchestrated all of the music Butts-Manzo composed, as well as acted in the show.

One of his favorite memories from the show was his “special handshake” with co-star Rodriguez. “Each night we would add something new,” Monaghan said. “It was really fun to think up what we were going to add next.”

In all, the costumes were awesome, the plot entertaining and above all, it was rewarding to pay tribute to a long-standing, Eastern-based organization that offers children an outlet for their creativity and a chance to explore the world of theater.

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