Bring Both Shoes to the PA Theater: PA Players Present Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Helen Foley ’22 and James Herrera ’23, who portray the king and queen, perform in Providence academies newest musical, Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. PAW Photo Credit: Mrs. Claire Roden

After months of auditions, preparations, and rehearsals, the PA Players are proud to present Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. With wonderful performances, incredible sets, and euphonious singing, Cinderella is set to be the most intricate musical at Providence in years.  Showtimes are today and tomorrow at 7:00 PM, and Saturday, and Sunday at 2:00 PM, in the beautiful Performing Arts Center.

The story is the classic fairy tale everyone knows and loves. With its comedy, drama, adventure–and especially romance–, fans of all types of shows will surely enjoy the production.

Providence has been putting together Musicals under the direction of Mrs. Melissa Simmons since 2005. Since the opening of the PAC in 2017, the musicals have progressively gotten more and more grand. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a full-scale musical has not been performed since 2019, leaving actors eager to perform and theater enthusiasts eager to attend. 

Sydney Borland ’22 and Jack McElroy ’22 waltz in Providence musical, Cinderella. PAW Photo Credit: Mrs. Claire Roden

Another unique facet of this particular performance is that Providence has done this same musical before, in 2009. Simmons reassured, “This time will be different. Our stage is much bigger. Last time we were in the great room, and so space constraints took some of the magic away, but this time you’ll see the magic.” 

Sydney Borland ‘22 stars as the kind-hearted title character, shining in her role and truly perfecting the vocals. Her love interest, the prince, is played by Jack McElroy ‘22 who perfectly depicts the lovesick royal. 

The comedic elements of the show can undoubtedly be attributed to the stepsisters, played by Liz Burns ‘23 and Olivia Trader ‘23. Their boisterous outfits and talented performances add a whole new hilarious dimension to the play.

Another central character, the fairy Godmother, is beautifully portrayed by Kortney Onyambu ’24. Her vocals and performance are incredible and elevate the show.

The talented cast and crew complete an unforgettable ensemble. Though the cast gets the glory, the crew is truly at the heart of this year’s play.

Sydney Borland ’22 and Kortney Onyambu ’24 enchant the audience with their magical voices, in the final dress rehearsal of Providence spring musical, Cinderella. PAW Photo Credit: Mrs. Claire Roden

Olivia Bissonette ‘22, the talented stage manager who has participated in PA theater the last five years explained, “From a technical standpoint, we are doing a lot. We have almost forty sound cues, not to mention the backdrops. There’s a lot going on and it will look really cool.”

Anika Ausvold ‘24, the talented and energetic choreographer, has taught the dances of the musical numbers to the cast. Like Bissonette, Ausvold is a five-year theater veteran. She has enjoyed this production and expressed, “I love how supportive everyone is and how we have created such an amazing theater family.” 

PA Middle School students have already had a chance to preview the production. They’re calling it “Amazing!” and “Hilarious!” and were especially impressed with the special effects at the moments of transformation for Cinderella, from Broom-Sweeper to Belle of the Ball.

Without a doubt, the entire PA community should attend the event with their friends and family. All ages will be absolutely enchanted by the bright colors, beautiful costumes, and wonderful sets as the PA Players bring this classic tale to life.

A Slam Dunk for Ukraine

In the wake of troubling world news, most middle schoolers may feel disconnected from others’ suffering or helpless to make a difference. But, when Providence Academy sixth-grader Nathaniel Mendoza and his younger brother Benjamin saw news about the war in Ukraine, they felt obligated to act. The brothers have created a fundraiser for their mother’s hometown of Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland. 

They’re calling it “Three Pointers for Ukraine.” The goal is to send money, clothing, and letters to Jastrzebie Zdroj so the refugee children feel more at home after leaving everything behind. The town, roughly the size of Plymouth, is currently hosting about 200 Ukrainian refugee families, mostly mothers and their children.

Zach Roles shoots a three pointer at a “3 pointers for Ukraine” meeting, shooting hoops to raise money to buy clothes for refugee children (Paw photo credit Kelly Roles).

As the name suggests, donors in the fundraiser have the option to sponsor a three-pointer by giving as little as three dollars. The Mendoza boys then rally their friends and aim to win big, hitting as many three-pointers as possible to raise money.

Providence Academy 6th grader, Zach Roles, joined the effort after his mom, Assistant to PA Lower School Director, Mrs. Kelly Roles, saw the announcement on Facebook and informed him. Zach immediately told her he wanted to join and help the kids fleeing Ukraine. 

Zach explained, “I love that we are helping people that really need it and doing something we love at the same time.” 

Mrs. Roles has spent the last few weeks spreading the word about the unique campaign and driving her and other kids to the shooting events. 

News stations took interest in the movement rather quickly; the story gained national attention and was featured by ABC 5, Fox 9, and the Sun Sailor. 

To date, Romania, Australia, and Costa Rica have also participated in selling three-pointers for Ukraine.

Those interested in joining the Mendoza movement can also donate newborn clothing and bring it to their home in Plymouth. These donations give refugee mothers a way to clothe their young children and have some belongings of their own after having to abandon life in their home country.  

Another way to lend support is to make a card to lift the spirits of the Ukrainian children. This gives the children a sense of belonging and to know someone cares about them in these uncertain times. 

Roles elaborated on her thoughts about her son’s involvement: “I think it is amazing that our kids are coming together as a team, showing compassion for others and spreading kindness around the world.  They are a true example for kids and adults.”

On March 12th, around fifty young boys gathered and made 5,148 points at Dr. Dish Shooting Lab in Bloomington. The group is planning on hosting another shooting session in order to make all the baskets donors have already pledged. 

As of March 16th, the group had raised 31,699 dollars which is 10,566 3 pointers purchased. As of the same date, there are about 125 kids throughout the globe shooting hoops to help Ukraine. 

Roles showed her appreciation for the Mendoza brothers saying, “All of this started in the heart of a PA 6th grader (Nathaniel) and his brother! Thank you boys for making  PA proud!”

Providence Academy students Jake Kreklow, Grayson Koster, Finn Wallack, Colt Perrill, Zach Roles, and Nathaniel Mendoza gather at a “3 Pointers for Ukraine” fundraiser to help raise money for clothes to give Ukrainian children who arrive in Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland (Paw photo credit Kelly Roles).

The current situation in Ukraine is a devastating reminder of past atrocities committed by Russian leaders. Dr. Camelia Alb, a PA parent born in Romania during the communist occupation, witnessed the fear and suffering of occupied countries. Alb expressed her feelings about the situation in Ukraine saying, “I don’t think Putin will ever stop unless someone from outside comes to help. Throughout the world, people need to give support to Ukraine.”

To donate, visit this link and buy a three-pointer to help children fleeing Ukraine!

A Christmas Card Crafted with Art

Every year, Providence Academy sends members of its community a Christmas card, with its cover designed by an 11th grade art student who shows promising skill and a true love of Christ. This year Marie Heyda, ’23, with the support of PA Art Teacher Christopher Santer, created a beautiful painting that adorns the front of the card.

This year, the image is a water color of the front of the school during the holiday season, with the iconic Christmas tree at the center, lighting the way of Christ. The picture portrays snow covering the building, beautifully reflecting the light from the windows out into the world.

Santer has commissioned a student to create the cover art for the last ten years and explained, “When it comes to choosing the scene the artwork has varied throughout the years. It has been a wide range from a painting of poinsettias with a quote, to Mother and Child imagery, angels, the glow of Bethlehem, etc. Various media are used but most often pencil and watercolor.”

Santer always asks a junior, in studio art classes, to create the image because seniors tend to be busier with college applications or the many demands of Honors Art. The juniors, though, demonstrate the required knowledge of and experience with art to create a beautiful card for every PA family to see. 

The card’s student artist is not only responsible for deciding upon the image for the cover but also for creating it, and Santer gives them the liberty to choose whatever Providence related Christmas theme they want.

Heyda described her process saying, “I had a few different ideas but I really like the Providence scene.”

Heyda decided to use pen and watercolor to portray the beautiful landscape, as it captures the true beauty of Providence Academy at Christmas time. 

Marie Heyda, ’23, paints the cover art for the Providence Academy 2021 Christmas card after being given the honor by Art Teacher Christopher Santer.

Last year’s artist, Elle Wiederholt ‘22 said, “Having Mr. Santer choose me was a great boost of confidence. I also learned what it is like to create a ‘commissioned’ piece of art on a deadline! I chose to paint a scene depicting the night sky and the star above Bethlehem. I used the quote, ‘A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices’ in the painting because I felt that, in the especially weary year of 2020, we all needed the light of Christ.”  

The 2021 Providence academy Christmas Card includes a Biblical quote the true meaning of the season.

The chance to create something for the entire community has proven to be a positive experience for the student artists. Santer added, “It certainly makes the cards more directly reflecting our school and the students here. It is a tradition I hope will continue indefinitely. It is far more meaningful and personal than a commercial card that the school could buy.”

Indeed, this special tradition certainly creates a more memorable holiday greeting and also provides a student with a terrific opportunity.

“Who Dunnit?” PA’s Newest Production

Was it Mr. Green, in the Billiard Room, with the rope?  Professor Plum, in the Conservatory, with the knife? These iconic board game questions are brought to life in PA’s latest stage production, Clue. For three nights the weekend of Halloween, the production will be shown in the beautiful Performing Arts Center: Friday at 7:00, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00.

 All students, friends, and family are invited to come see this amazing show, recommended for grades five and above. Energetic pacing, amazing sets, and elaborate costumes create a fun and entertaining rendition of a beloved 1980’s cult classic. The PA production is based on the movie by the same title, following the famous characters from the classic board game by the Parker brothers. Shortly after arriving at the mysterious Boddy Manor, the eccentric characters are confronted by danger. As key players begin to die left and right, the survivors must find out who the murderer is, before they become the next victim. 

The show was chosen for its comedic and mysterious elements, making it perfect to debut the weekend of Halloween. Mrs. Melissa Simmons has been the PA theater director for nineteen years. Simmons described the show as “mischievous.”  

Simmons went on to say, “Though I’m in charge at the beginning it really becomes a student show once the lights go up.” 

Gage Pietrini ’22, a theater participant for four years, will be playing the role of Professor Plum. He commented, “People should come see the show because it is a great murder mystery on Halloween night and you can really see the dedication we’ve put into it.” 

The on stage talent has also made an impression on Sarah Huebschen ’22, a theater participant for two years.  She exclaimed, “I think our energy is fantastic! It’s a very fast paced, energetic show. People recognize the characters, but now they can see a new creative angle.”  

Simmons expressed, “Clue is a great show to start the year with because of the amount of fun it is, which gets students involved. People want to come see the show and it boosts participation for later shows.”

The production has not been without difficulty. Because of persistent issues with some students having to quarantine for weeks at a time, there have been some bumps along the way.  Still, Simmons remarked, “I see a great future here. Not only have the seniors been strong but the underclassmen are rising to the challenge.”

No Halloween weekend would be complete without the comedy and mystery of Clue. For theatergoers debating attendance, Pietrini assured, “You wont regret it. I’m thoroughly convinced you’ll enjoy the show.”

Santer’s Spectacular Scene

Over the summer, Providence Academy art teacher Mr. Christopher Santer, painted an impressive mural in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Santer often is commissioned to do projects outside of school, juggling these with his job here at Providence and spending time with his family. 

This incredible mural added a new degree of character to the quaint river town. The painting depicts a beautiful mountain range covered by mist with a backdrop of a scenic sunset. 

Parkersburg is special to Santer because it is his hometown, where he lived for most of his childhood and his family still resides. Parkersburg local and friend of Santer, Mr. Edward Escandon, first reached out to him to paint the flood wall in 2018. The city was allowing people to hang advertisements on the floodwall, which wasn’t very picturesque. Escandon saw the wall as a blank canvas with great potential, but it was essentially functioning as a billboard.

Escandon commented, “[I chose Santer because] I knew the scope of this project would require the highest technical skill over and above a winning artistic vision.”

He continued, “Chris was my number one and only choice, if I could just get him interested. Chris having roots here in Parkersburg has been a huge multiplier of the energy and passion he has brought to the project. ” 

Once he agreed to the take on this task, Santer began planning out sketches for possible layouts. Then he spent months working to plan and scale the model of the painting. He began with a small collage sketch, then moved on to painting a 1/20th scale canvas. Many students will remember, in 2018, this painting was displayed in the atrium while he worked out the colors and composition. One of the final steps was to design a ten by twenty foot painting to practice blending. 

When asked what the biggest difficulty would be in preparing for the summer, Santer answered, “The unknowns. The wall was twenty feet high and I didn’t know how it was going to work on the lifts. All those question marks were the challenge.”

After his arrival in West Virginia, leaving his family behind in Minnesota, Santer spent six hours of his first day on the job laying out the grid with a pencil and level. It then took three additional hours to paint the major lines.

Long time PA art teacher Mr. Christopher Santer and a friend begin the intimidating project starting to paint the sunset background of the flood wall mural in Santer’s hometown of Parkersburg, WV this summer. (PAW photo courtesy of Christopher Santer)

Santer invited a local teacher, Abbie Burge, her current and former students to help with this intimidating endeavor. Eight students participated, spending their time painting base colors in large areas and blending out the colors. 

When Ms. Burge was asked how the experience affected her students she responded, “Being part of a community project like this helps students connect with their communities, and it instills pride and ownership of their hometown.” 

Burge expressed, “Students were also able to connect with other artists and do a bit of networking.  It was a valuable experience for them to meet a commissioned artist.”

Local students from Parkersburg South High school dutifully assist Santer in his endeavor painting large areas of the flood wall mural and blending colors this past summer (PAW photo courtesy of Christopher Santer).

The project received a substantial amount of local media coverage. Santer was interviewed twice for the local news and appeared in the paper three times.

In all, the project took 11 hours of work, six days a week, for three weeks until it was complete. The final product was a truly spectacular scene and a milestone for Santer as an artist.

“Being able to work to that scale was a new one for me and the wall was far more textured than I thought, so I had to adjust to a thick primer texture. It was a thrilling experience,” Santer concluded.