A cast of seven actors, many of whom play multiple characters, takes the stage in Wigg Hall for this spring’s 1212 Play, Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang.
The semi-autobiographical play tackles issues of race and assimilation and was written as a reaction to the real life casting of a white actor to play an Asian role in the hit musical Miss Saigon in 1990. In Yellow Face, Mr. Hwang’s character, played by Jonathan WuWong (II), accidentally casts a white actor, played by Ty Mohn (III) for an Asian role. He then proceeds to try to cover up his error in comedic fashion, although the humor explores complicated issues that are relevant today.
Performing arts department chair Peter Parisi, who is directing this spring’s 1212, says the play unfolds like a documentary with appearances by key cultural and political figures of the ‘90s. The play is also a part of the School’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration. There will be two “talk backs” with actors after Thursday’s and Friday’s show. Other events scheduled during the month include a Straus Dessert titled “Acting Asian American” on May 16 and an Asian Society workshop on tea culture led by Leo Jin (II) on May 22.
Yellow Face opens Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m., and shows on Friday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 6, at 7 p.m.
More than 40 students are participating in Grease, the iconic musical set in a 1950s high school, which opens Thursday, May 18, in King Theatre. It’s a big production for Milton, says performing arts faculty member Eleza Moyer, who is directing the show.
“It’s a classic show,” Eleza says. “A lot of the students have seen the movie, and Grease Live! was on TV in the fall, which brought the show back. It’s a fun time period, with fun costumes. It appeals to a lot of people.”
Because Grease is set in a high school, the students are playing characters their own age, an opportunity not often available in musicals. Faculty member and choreographer Kelli Edwards and assistant choreographer Sophie Clivio (II) are teaching the company classic ‘50s dance routines that will be familiar to any fans of the classic film starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta.
Eshani Chakrabarti (I) plays Sandy and Spencer Evett (I) plays Danny; the show also stars Nick Govindan (I) as Kenickie, Dorsey Glew (II) as Rizzo, and Cheyenne Porcher (I) as Frenchie. Nick Gistis (I) is the assistant director.
Eshani has been in Milton productions, and has worked with Eleza, since she was in sixth grade. Having the musical in the spring allows freshman to participate—in the fall, the Class IV play takes their time—something Eshani loves.
“It’s a great way to meet people in every class. Some of the best times I’ve had at Milton have been in ensemble roles as a younger student,” she says. “A lot of the Grease cast have been together in shows for years. For the seniors, it’s a great way to end our run at Milton with such a fun show.”
Grease will run Thursday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m.
For students interested in sustainability, there are two student-run clubs that focus on environmental issues—the Sustainability Board and LORAX. Katie Friis (I), Jason Kong (I) and Juliana Viola (I) are the co-heads the Sustainability Board, which is the official school group that focuses on environmental efforts at Milton. Named for the Dr. Seuss character that “speaks for the trees,” LORAX is a student group established in 1987 that raises awareness of the environment and our responsibility as stewards of the Earth. Joy Lee (I) and Will Pincince (I) are the co-heads. Both groups were active this year with a wide range of initiatives around campus.
“The Sustainability Board started off the school year by distributing Nalgene reusable water bottles to every Upper School student and faculty member that wanted one, a project that we began working on last spring to get approval by the administration and funding from the school,” says Katie. “The goal was to encourage students to use reusable water bottles rather than plastic water bottles. The bookstore told us that bottled water sales have significantly dropped this year, so we are hoping Milton can become a plastic water bottle-free campus in coming years.”
The Board also worked with Flik Dining Services to develop menus and food pledges during Earth Month in April. Alex Chen (II) worked on installing more raised bed gardens on campus, and the Board is working with the community engagement board to facilitate student volunteers to tend the garden. They also formed an Independent Schools Sustainability Coalition and hosted the first conference at Milton.
LORAX members were also busy this year. Joy says, “This year, LORAX was devoted to inspiring environmental awareness and conversations through student discussions. We discussed the causes, effects and long-term solutions of a range of environmental issues such as environmental policy, marine ecosystems, pollution, biodiversity and food waste. Projects including trash pickups and creating a bio water filter further informed our discussions.”
LORAX also hosted the Earth Day Assembly speaker this week. Former Congressman Bob Inglis, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, talked about his work of trying to get other conservative politicians to act against climate change and to find solutions through the free market.
Centre Connection, Milton's online newsletter for parents, is published five times each year through the efforts of the Milton Academy Communication Office and Parents' Association volunteers.