Woodgrove Theater’s “Bounce back” Musical, Spongebob

The+set+of+Spongebob+being+put+together%2C+taken+by+Wynn+Drenning.+

The set of Spongebob being put together, taken by Wynn Drenning.

After having to produce online shows and a frequent change in directors over the past two years, Woodgrove’s new drama teacher, Mrs. Beverly Pruzina is using this spring’s musical, Spongebob, to portray the message of courage and togetherness that she wants the department to represent. 

 

The drama department has endured changing teachers three times in the span of four years and suffered from being completely shut down due to the pandemic. Even once students were allowed to perform again, they had to adapt to performing online, in masks, and with little to no crowd. Theater thrives off in-person experiences, chemistry on the stage, and connections, and these conflicts affected those factors greatly. Theater teacher/director of the musical, Mrs. Pruzina and her students/actors have worked hard to overcome these challenges.

 

Senior Serina Parrish, who’s playing Spongebob, says, “The constant switching of teachers was rather jarring at times and definitely caused some disagreements and issues within the theater community, but that’s what I love about Mrs. Pruzina. I think everyone loves her, and she has done a great job of bringing our department closer together as a family. The theater community definitely feels more united thanks to her.

 

 Pruzina has done an incredible job settling in at Woodgrove with a lot of help from her new colleagues and new students. A welcoming environment has been the major factor in the advancement in the department.

 

Pruzina said, “To have students say ‘hey, she’s got this,’ I think was a big key to my success.” The support she got from her students, especially her upperclassmen, gave her a lot of confidence and helped with connecting  and building chemistry with her actors. 

 

“When you have seniors that come and support you, it makes the transition so much easier,” said Pruzina. 

 

This is Pruzina’s first year teaching high school, a big step from middle school, so the reassurance received from her fellow staff, students, and especially her daughter made the adjustment much easier. 

 

Pruzina’s goal as the new leader of The Grove Theater is to make everyone feel just as welcome as supported. The attendance this year for theater has been off the charts, with one of the best turnouts for a fall play yet this year. Currently, around 80 students are involved in the upcoming musical. Her goal with this play is to show students they can achieve whatever they believe they can. She wants to show that putting yourself out there and taking risks is important for everyone to go through in life, and what better way than to join theater.

 

According to Pruzina, “The biggest message [of Spongebob The Musical] is that we have an incredible gift individually as students, teachers, and faculty members, and you have to be willing to give yourself. The message is ‘Oh Spongebob, you’re just a simple sponge, you can’t save us.’ He starts to think, ‘Maybe I can’t, maybe I’m nothing,’ and it resonates. Kids in high school often see themselves in the worst possible way, and yet their friends often see them in the best possible way. So, I think the big takeaway from the show is believe in yourself. This is such a small time, only four years, so believe you can do it. You count and can make a difference.”

 

Insecurity is a lingering issue in many high school students. Having a purpose is incredibly yearned for and the fear of being worthless is even greater. In order to prove to her fellow students they have the potential to be that best version of themselves, Parrish hopes to show that through her performance. 

 

She said, I’m hoping to play SpongeBob as the person we all want to be. In the show, he is the driving force of change, who always sees the best in every situation and others, who’s not afraid to put actions to his words. I hope people will take out of the show a sense of hope and encouragement to appreciate the little things in life a little more.

The set of Spongebob being put together, taken by Wynn Drenning.

One of the scariest parts of being who you are is the worry of not belonging and being “weird.” But with the openness displayed by Woodgrove students, and especially the theater department, it shows that, “It’s cool to be freaky at Woodgrove,” says Pruzina. Quirks are most welcomed in The Grove Theater.

 

 Being in a community and having a family through high school enhances the high school experience and Ms. Pruzina is showing she can offer that through the production of Spongebob, no matter who you are.

 

“I want to make sure people feel included, and I think this musical gives loads of folks an opportunity to shine. And it can be intimidating. Some people would rather die than sing in front of 100 people, but I hope they see through this show how fun and rewarding it is,” said Pruzina.