“Leaves” a dazzling part of the fall foliage

Cast of Leaves
Cast of Leaves

By Michael Tricca
Staff Writer

Theatre season is in its full prime, and the fruit it bears is ripe and bursting with flavor. Alongside the main musical of  In the Heights, is the student-directed Black Box drama Leaves, written by Lucy Caldwell. 

Black Box productions are special opportunities limited to freshmen and sophomores interested in participating in Westford Academy Theatre Arts. These shows are known for their high emotional intensity and wide range of topics.

Leaves is about the family of a young woman, Lori, who returns home from college after a suicide attempt. The cast includes the characters of Lori, Poppy, David, Clover, and Phyllis, being played by Madi Gallagher, Megan O’Connor, Jack Laushine, Maddie Corvino, and Catherine Crimmins, respectively.

“I didn’t pick [Leaves] to deal with suicide, but how it affects other people […] on a family or on a community,” said director Jillian Baker, a senior.

Baker says the play connects with everyone. It tells of the loss of people close to you, and how one might cope.

In order to direct a Black Box production, a student must have taken a directing class and been an assistant director for a mainstage production. The only prerequisite for Directing 1 is the course Elements of Theatre.

“It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun”, said Baker.

Along with Baker, two other students operate the technicalities of the show; stage manager Emily Crossley and assistant director Claire Clark operate the lights and sound.

“There’s never a dull moment”, said Crossley, a freshman. Crossley had been chosen as stage manager  by Baker after going through auditions and callbacks for the play.

The cast works for about three hours, Monday through Friday, after school.

“I think it’s a really good play…It deals with a really hard topic” says O’Connor, who has been acting in school plays since sixth grade. “Poppy is the character I’ve played that is most similar to me. Poppy has a lot of stuff in her head, but not a good way to express it.”

Gallagher, said  “The play  brings light on that type of situation. [suicide]”

According to Gallagher, she doesn’t relate to Lori as much because they “see things differently”, but that doesn’t prevent her from playing the role well. “[Lori] is pretty difficult to play because she has so many different emotions.”, said Gallagher.

She loves the different opportunities working with a student director. “It’s very different […] we get to do things we wouldn’t get to do normally.”

“It’s been a blast”, said Laushine, who plays Lori’s father, David. “David’s very quiet, and reserved. All the other characters are just spilling their hearts out and I’m just like ‘Yes. I know.’ Going into it, I was like, ‘I’m the only guy in this cast, I gotta like […] step up, but now […] It’s a great group of people.”

Each character brings a different perspective to the story, reflecting on the turmoil in the play.

Crimmins said, “[Phyllis] is very caring […] but […] she just doesn’t know she can only fix some things so much.”

“I play teen angst,” said Corvino on her role, Clover. Clover is Lori and Poppy’s fifteen-year-old sister. “I don’t like family, I hate my mom […] I just have a lot of emotions, but no one knows it.”

The cast and crew is excited to put on their play, and they’re in the final stages of the development process.

“It’s definitely more mature than any play I’ve ever done,” said O’Connor.

The first performances are on October thirtieth and thirty-first at three and seven o’ clock, followed by performances on November sixth and seventh.