Bonanza’s theater program attempts to raise itself from the ashes

The curtain closes and the audience members jump to their feet, roaring with applause as the actors take their bows. This may seem like an average performance for most, but those who are behind the scenes know the true drama of this stage.

In May 2008, Bonanza High School students were notified that the theater program would be dropped.

“It was devastating because we were all looking forward to our musical next year and after ‘Harvey’ we all just kind of broke down,” said Noelle Pineta, a Bonanza junior and performer. “It was depressing to see that after such a great production that we didn’t receive as much support from our fellow students as we thought we would have.”

Bonanza lost its theater classes because of a lack of funds and a lack of newcomers. There weren’t enough signups for theater to continue the class that fall.

Though the school wasn’t able to support a class anymore, drama club members fought for their performances through a Marie Callender’s pie fundraiser and the November show, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” All of the money, proceeds and donations were given to the drama club and its newest adviser, Gary Sessa.

“Bonanza has a long and wonderful history of theater,” Sessa said, directing attention to the countless pictures of past performances, trophies and awards. “You can look at the lobby and see that.”

The Bonanza administration gave Sessa a position as an English teacher, but some of his students said his most important job is that of theater adviser and director for the drama club.

“Mr. Sessa’s a great addition to Bonanza,” said Casey Tsuma, the drama club’s tech president and a Bonanza senior. “He gave us a lot more support than we thought we’d get, including a lot of knowledge.”

Bonanza has helped with not only finding a replacement supervisor, but the administration also made donations to the club.

“They support what we do here, they really do,” Sessa said. “The teachers, deans, principal and everyone in between is supportive to the cause.”

The theater students attribute their recent success to their adviser and plenty of hard work.

“I am so very thankful for our amazing director and adviser,” Pineta said. “Without him we would have never been able to put on ‘Anne Frank.'”

The play itself raised almost $1,000 and brought many faces, new and old, into the theater. A lot of hard work from the actors, club members, and techies went into the production.

“I felt like I lived there,” Pineta said. “We would be set-building, take a break, paint the stage, eat, build some more, rehearse like crazy, clean up, wash, rinse, repeat. That was my life for over two months, but I don’t regret a second of it.”

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