Behind the Scenes with the Cast and ‘The Crucible’


Ben Bowen

Senior Megan Riordan as Betty Parris accompanied by the cast, Act 1, Scene 1

In preparation for the debut of the fall play, the cast and crew of The Crucible spent hours perfecting their lines, painting set pieces, and curling every wig for opening night. This year’s fall production marks the Upper School Theater Department’s first post-COVID year in which the rehearsal process was mask-optional from start to finish.

Sophomore Ajay Singh, who performed as Francis Nurse, said, “The switch was much of a step up. The bulk of the production is much better. We actually have costumes this time.” In the past two years, members of the Middle and Upper School theater performed over Zoom. For some actors, such as sophomore Jeremiah Wheatley, The Crucible marks an exciting debut for the actors as their first entirely masks-off production process.

Skilled seamstress Mia Thomas drafted and created the historical yet stylish costumes featured in the production. A particular show-stealer was the drawstring capelet worn by freshman Marc Abrahams for his role as Constable John Willard. “It’s reversible, [with] two layers of heavy fabric, so it feels weighted,” Marc said.

Unlike the 2019 play She Kills Monsters or 2018’s Singin’ in the Rain, this fall’s production took on a comparatively more grim adaptation. The Crucible, written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, recites a dramatized account of the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s. The play documents Salem over the course of a year, packing allusions to the political turmoil of Miller’s time.

Dean of 11th and 12th grade students Nick Baer, taking the chair as director alongside Performing Arts faculty members Frank Schneider and Thad Hallstein, explained the reasoning for the unique choice for the fall play. “We chose The Crucible for a few different reasons,” Mr. Baer said. “Having done mostly comedies over the last few years—which I think we needed—it felt like it was time to dive into something with some real dramatic weight. It’s a phenomenal play that offered our talented students a number of acting challenges. Plus, witches and Halloween always works!”

The performance ran two hours and 30 minutes, requiring immense stamina from its actors to nail the potent delivery and convincing shrieks. Senior Cole Hanover, who played John Proctor, said, “The Crucible is an incredibly weighty show. It was the first time I’ve ever had to leave my comedic acting behind and hone in on flexing my drama muscles.” Cole added, “I think the intense nature of the play proved an adjustment for everyone involved. We had to focus on conveying the nuance of the script without slipping into melodrama, and although the process was difficult, I think we’d all agree the end result was very worth it.”

As with any show, anxieties met the cast and crew before opening night. Cole said, “I was slightly worried after the lack of big audience reactions at the invited dress rehearsal, but thankfully, opening night’s audience packed a punch that fueled the actors on stage.”

Following the show on closing night, the cast filled the Pit’s back stairwell and thanked the people involved in making The Crucible possible. Mr. Baer said, “The whole process was intense but fun, particularly the last few weeks as I saw the cast begin to get comfortable and inhabit their characters. This cast was tremendously supportive of each other, which was wonderful to watch. It was also pretty awesome working with my daughter as the stage manager, I’m not gonna lie.”