The Neil Simon Festival — Final Production By The Varley Players

By Olivia Scaglione

Whether it be South Pacific, Les Miserables, or Oklahoma, three times a year Byram Hills students get to participate in and watch the theater productions put on by the Varley Players. The Varley Players are the theatrical performing arts ensemble who are named after Joy Varley who served as a teacher and director of the Fine Arts Program at Byram Hills High School for twenty-eight years!

This year, the Varley Players have already produced two shows- Urinetown and Oklahoma- which were both huge hits. However, for their final show of 2018, the Varley Players are going in a different direction.

This spring, the ensemble is putting on the Neil Simon Festival. The production is split up into two shows: The Odd Couple and Rumors. The Odd Couple will premiere on Friday, May 18 at 7 pm and Saturday, May 19 at 2 pm whereas Rumors will premiere Saturday, May 19 at 7 pm and Sunday, May 21 at 2 pm.

After speaking to Mr. Gulick and several students who participate in theater, I learned that the next theatrical performance is unlike the previous two shows the ensemble has performed this year.

Unlike Urinetown and Oklahoma, the number of available roles for The Odd Couple and Rumors is limited. Therefore, all students that wanted to participate had to go through a tough audition process. Marleigh Canter, who plays Olive Madison in the Odd Couple, explained that for auditions, students had to perform a 30 to 60-second monologue in front of Mr. Gulick and Mr. Lopez.

Differently from to previous shows that have been produced at Byram, The Odd Couple and Rumors are not musical performances but instead, they are theatrical performances with no singing involved. Thus, there is no ensemble and therefore fewer cast members. Fortunately, there are several other roles if students want to participate in the show besides performing on stage. This includes various different jobs on crew such as makeup crew, light crew, and stage crew.

After speaking with Mr. Gulick, I was able to learn more about the plot of these two shows. In the original show, The Odd Couple had a mostly male cast. However, Byram Hills is performing the female version. The show is a comedy about two women who become roommates. In the show, these two women are total opposites with one woman being untidy and the other women being extremely neat and high strung. The play is about how these two women attempt to cope with each other. Freshman Jessie Perlmutter who will be playing Renee, one of the roommates best friends, in The Odd Couple told me that she thinks the audience will enjoy the show because “it’s entertaining with tons of laughs”.

Mr. Gulick also explained the plot of the other show being performed, Rumors. He explained that the show is about a dinner party that does not go as expected. In fact, when the guests show up, one of their host’s is missing and the other has “accidentally” shot himself in the ear. It is a comedic murder mystery that takes place right here in Westchester, New York. Who doesn’t love a comedy with a little mystery thrown in?

It is clear that this spring performance by the Varley Players will be one of the best yet!

Be sure to mark May 18-20 on your calendar and come see the Neil Simon Festival, the final Varley Players performance of the school year!