NHS Theater brings “The Dragon” to life

Justes Cureton, Staff Writer

Naugatuck High School Theater showcased the play “The Dragon,” by Lady Gregory over the weekend of April 6-8 in Davis Auditorium. The comic success highlighted the talented students involved.

The play was first performed in 1919 and published in 1923 by Lady Gregory, an Irish dramatist.

“The drama club collectively chose it, we did a read through of two plays, looking at the potential in both and what we wanted to challenge ourselves with. Everyone loved the comedic elements of “The Dragon” and wanted to do something different than the modern real world show we had done the year before. We wanted something we could have fun with and thus “The Dragon” was picked,” said Emily Wilcox, one of student directors.

The play tells the tale of  a young princess who is cursed to be eaten by a dragon on her eighteenth birthday if she is not married. Unfortunately, the astrologer, Fintan, played expertly by senior Courtney Rivnack, is off by one year and the events take place on her seventeenth birthday instead.

The play was led by Sydney Lauer, a junior, who played the queen and stepmother of Nuala, played by junior Jessica Sember and senior Vanessa Archacki who played the role on Sunday. Lauer had the most stage time and guided much of the play’s conflict.

Sydney Lauer as the Queen

Sydney Lauer has now performed the lead for two consecutive years in the Naugatuck High School productions. Sydney also has had roles in the Naugatuck Teen Theater.  She is currently preparing to play Lady Capulet for NTT’s presentation of Romeo and Juliet.

Her stage presence is both commanding and phenomenal.

Jacob Biehn, a senior who played the wise old man Dall Glic, added so much comedy to the play, culminating in his angry dismissal of the audience. His grasp of the physical nature of the character was constant and hilarious.

Quentin Keith, a junior, played the role of the king in his second performance for NHS Drama. His dramatic shifts in mood, his constant belly rubbing and many utterances of “That’s gross” are memorable and brought levity to the few serious moments.

Jessica Sember glowed as the teenage princess, Nuala. Equally masterful was her understudy Vanessa Archacki. The actors successfully portrayed the rebelliousness of the young girl.

Jessica and Vanessa earned the role of the beautiful woman and her three suitors, played deftly by sophomore Anna Conforti as the triumphant Manus, senior Liz Tuscano as the meek Prince of Marshes, and junior Julianna Scully as the sneaky Taig.

The cast was reinforced by the talents of Maria Glorioso, Hanna Zeliantsova, Divine Mbuyi, Deena Soucie, Julia St. Paul, Saranda Cermenika, and Izabelle Tolliver.

Written by Lady Gregory and adapted by theater students, the play was directed by three student directors: Emma Brackett, Liz Tuscano, and Emily J. Wilcox.

Vanessa Archacki as Nuala and Sydney Lauer as the Queen

“This show was possibly the hardest one I’ve ever been apart of, but that’s what also made it the best. I took everything as a learning experience and [even] though it was hard we made it work. I don’t think I could’ve kept going without the hope and support of everyone…” commented Wilcox.

Despite illnesses and pervasive inclement weather, the play seemed to go off without a hitch. The audience enjoyed it immensely as evidenced by the voracious applause.

“I thought the play was wonderful. The students were outrageously professional and the play was very funny as well as super entertaining. My favorite thing about it as a whole was I saw some of the quietest students shine on stage. The moment that sticks with me the most is when Quentin’s personal microphone fell and Jacob helped make it like it was part of the scene flawlessly,” said Mrs. Michele Dunn, an English teacher at Naugatuck High School.