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Review: PALS Shows Superior Effort

Tonight was an event I have looked forward to ever since I first read about Spain Park High School's award winning entry in the Atlanta Fringe Festival.

The night began with some sweet stories of young love shared with us by the incomparable Dolores Hydock. As many times as I have seen Ms. Hydock, I am always drawn in by her melodious voice and her wonderful stories. Tonight was no exception.

But tonight was about the Spain Park High School theatre students (S'Park Theatre). PALS, an original work written by nine students and drama teacher Eric Reid St. John, is based on letters from and some of the events of World War I.

When the British joined the war, Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of War decided to make brigades out of groups of young men from the same communities, same churches, schools and factories. These PALS brigades would train and fight together. The town of Leeds, England was one of those communities who sent most of their young men into battle together and it is from their stories that SPHS created this piece of art.

Everyone involved in this one act play should be proud of what they have accomplished. Not only is it a beautiful story with lovely music both original and beloved, but it is a chance for students to see history from the point of view of the individual. Although we see horrific statistics at the end, the story goes beyond numbers and is personal and real.

The costumes are realistic and attractive, the set is very appealing and functional, easy to deal with as the show moves to competitions, and the sound effects and other special effects of war are very well done. I especially like the giant frame where we see the letters as they are read, as well as those statistics I mentioned and a lovely silhouette of the main couple dancing.

Max Johnson and Macey Rowland play Henry and Lucy, a young twosome who profess their love as Henry marches off to war. With their letters as the main focus, we see the horrors of war and the distress felt by those left behind. Johnson and Rowland do an excellent job in their respective parts, but they won over my heart when their lovely voices blended in If You Were the Only Girl in the World. I kept hoping they would sing more, but as with most aspects of this show, the amount of music was just right.

I feel sure that SPHS will make a great showing at the Atlanta Fringe. I found PALS to be well written, well directed, well-staged, and overall a meaningful piece of work. The entire cast did an admirable job and I thought that this production is something that our area can be proud to have represent us.

I feel like every cast member is worthy of praise here, each person did an excellent job. In talking about the kids of S'Park Theatre, Ms. Hydock pointed out that it is June and that school has been out for a while. Yet here are all of these kids (18 in the cast, 3 in the band and a crew of many) still at the school working at their craft. Ms. Hydock pointed out that not only do these kids love what they are doing, but they love who they are when they perform. I thought that was a lovely sentiment that should be true for all actors and I thought was evident in the work these kids did tonight.

The Atlanta Fringe Festival is this weekend, June 8-12. Break a leg to all of the cast and crew of PALS- I think you guys are awesome!

UPDATE: While at the Atlanta Fringe Festival, PALS received the Producer's Award- one of the four awards presented. Congratulations to the cast and crew!!

From This Author - Marietta Lunceford