Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Schooling in Love - now a new musical by Hilliard and Boresi!

The New Musical version of A Schooling in Love opens this week!
If you're in the Philadelphia area, come to the Abington Junior High School "Little Theatre" at 2056 Susquehanna Road in Abington, PA.
Show times are March 5th, 6th, and 7th at 7:30 pm, and March 7th at 2:00 pm.
All tickets are $10. To reserve yours, e-mail

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Schooling in Love - before it was a musical...

The Photos below were taken during rehearsals of:

A Schooling in Love, or That's What's Up With Girls
A non-musical play which premiered at Oswego East High School Drama Department in 2007, directed by Todd Mielcarz. It was adapted from the beloved Mozart/Da Ponte opera Cosi fan Tutte by playwright Matt Boresi. This non-musical Schooling provided the framework for the musical version featured at Abington in 2009.

The plot:

Freddy and Billy are two high school seniors head over heels for their girlfriends, Dori and Lilly. When a romantically disillusioned gym coach and a proud but dejected music teacher bet the boys their girlfriends won't stay faithful in light of the approaching prom - a game of false identities and tested fidelities ensue that turn DaPonte Community High School upside down!

A Sneak Peek into Rehearsals

Below are more photos of the OEHS straight play version of Schooling, and its very talented cast.

Disgruntled Coach Al (Nick Pankuck) bets Freddy (Matt Adams) and Billy (Brandon Healy) that their girlfriends can't stay faithful.

The boys big Dori (Danielle Swanson) and Lilly (Kylie Schoenecker) a tearful goodbye - Freddy and Billy are off to join the Salvation Army (?)!

Coach Al and Miss Thorne (Farley Bennett) in the choir room - denying their feelings for one another.

Dean Giovanni (Carl Mohler) thrills at the attention he'll get from his new "exchange students".

Senora Elvira (Emily Steele) puts the heat on the false exchange students Ersatz and Spurio.

Zoe (Ashley Fischer) and Babs (Ashley Hamilton) give Ersatz and Spurio a warm DCHS welcome.

The Cast Weighs In!

In 2007, an e-mail to the OEHS cast with a few questions about how the "Schooling" experience was going. Below are a few answers by the hard-working actors:

What are you learning about acting, comedy, or theatre from your experience on Schooling?

Jesse Green, ’08 (Matt)

When you take on a character, you’re not “Joe Guy” anymore. You’re someone else. “Joe Guy” does not exist inside that theater. You are your character. A living, breathing, character with a personality entirely different from your own. I’m learning from watching everything I do evolve and seeing other people perform.

What makes your participation the premiere of Schooling a unique experience?

Sam Marshall, ’09 (Pom Dancer)

All the other plays I have been in weren't really in this [modern] time period. So for this play to be current in the 21st century and be about teens in high school, it makes things interesting. All the actors can put even more personality into it. It's pretty cool!

Kylie Schoenecker, ’09 (Lilly)

When we first talked about the show - after everyone had been cast and we were just being introduced to what the play was and where it came from – Matt (Boresi) said to us that the roles we play will have a permanent impact on how the roles will be performed. Since we are the first cast ever to perform this play, we are the foundation of what’s going to happen to the play in the future (No pressure, or anything!). I think that’s an experience that is new to all of us. How many times do you get to have that sort of opportunity? It's crazy to think about and makes it all the more exciting!

(above) Cast and crew create set decorations for the OEHS production.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Don’t Hate Da Ponte, Hate Da Game

It’s time for a posting on the man without whom A Schooling in Love would certainly not be possible:

Lorenzo Da Ponte, the greatest librettist of the golden age of opera buffa, and the man who wrote the libretti to Mozart’s three greatest works: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan Tutte. (You can HAVE The Magic Flute, I say!)

Da Ponte’s life was nothing if not exciting – some fun facts:

He was born Jewish, but became a Catholic priest.

He was kicked out of the priesthood on account of his, ahem, his flagrant regard for the ladies, and he ran around Venice (and 19th century Vegas) with his wing-man… Cassanova! (really)

Initially uneducated, he became a brilliant and highly regarded (if politically controversial) poet and scholar who could quote chapter and verse from the great Italian poets – Petrarch, Dante, Metastasio, etc.

He was appointed to be Court poet by The Emperor Joseph, and wrote libretti for all the major composers of the day, including Mozart and Antonio Salieri (yeah, the bad guy from Amadeus – Cosi was originally begun for Salieri, but finished for Mozart).

Run out of Europe an account of his debts – he moved to the United States.

Discovered by “The Night Before Christmas” author Clement Clark Moore, Da Ponte became the first Italian professor at Columbia University in New York.

Da Ponte’s personal library became the basis for the Italian collections at the major institutions of the new United States of America.

And Lorenzo brought over an Italian opera buffa troupe, becoming one of the first people to introduce the U.S. to comic opera.

… and he’s buried somewhere in Queens!

Below are to some links to some Da Ponte biographies – since he told a lot of tall tales in his memoirs, it’s hard to get the facts straight (did he lose his teeth from bad dentistry, or from poisoning by a jealous husband?), and some of these bios are more reverent than others… any way you slice it, though, he was an important writer and scholar, and a very interesting guy.

Here's a great article:,11710,1680814,00.html

And two bios - one a bit of a hagiography, the other a bit brief, but here nonetheless:

(Some of) The Method Behind the Madness

Those of you who are familiar with Cosi fan Tutte know that there are only six characters in the show, plus a chorus. So, where did the 14 characters in Schooling come from?
Well, they were not conjured out of thin air, but rather have some kind of root (some strong, some slight) in characters from Cosi or from one of the other Mozart/DaPonte buffi – The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni.

Let’s run down the list and see how the magic is made, shall we?:

Billy – Billy, naturally, is based on Cosi’s Guglielmo. (Guglielmo is “William” in Italian.)

Lilly – It follows, then, that Lilly comes from Cosi’s Fiordiligi. (“Lillyflower”) The “Yard Rocks” song comes from Fiordiligi’s famous aria “Come Scoglio”… “Like a Rock”.

Freddy – From Cosi’s Ferrando. There is not as much delineation between the two boys and the two girls in Cosi as there is here, but Ferrando seems to be the more headstrong and poetic of the two.

Dori – From Cosi’s Dorabella. Dorabella is oftened described as the “flighty” sister, because she switches so quickly from a mad love of Ferrando to a mad love of Guglielmo’s Albanian.

Coach Al – From Cosi’s Don Alphonso.

Miss Thorne – From Cosi’s Despina. (“Little Thorne”) Despina is the girl’s young but worldly servant in Cosi, a de facto mentor because of her experience.

We’ve certainly beefed up the roles of Al and Thorne from their 18th century counterparts. As a matter of fact, although the teenage love stories drive the plot of Schooling – the real heart of the play, the point of the play, even, is to watch Al and Thorne take a second chance on true love.

Dean Giovanni – Loosely based on the titular character of Don Giovanni – an unscrupulous seducer of women.

Leo – Loosely based on Don Giovanni’s sidekick, Leporello. The obsessiveness of Leo is a new invention, but his opening monologue draws from the aria “Notte Giorno Faticar.”

‘Senora’ Elvira - Based on Donna Elvira – Don Giovanni’s spurned lover who still carries a flame for him and chases him throughout the opera.

Nurse Mesmer – Here she exists to satirize dangerous modern trends in pharmaceuticals, but in Cosi, the quack doctor is a disguise worn by Despina in order to further trick the girls. (And spoofing dangerous trends in medicine at the time!) Check out the bio of Franz Mesmer, after whom the term “mesmerism” was coined at Wikipedia:

Zoe – a lot of license here, but she echoes the flirty peasant girl Zerlina from Don Giovanni.

Babs – here’s another flirty servant girl – Barabarina from The Marriage of Figaro.

Matt and Ben – the names are partially a play on Damen and Affleck, for no reason other than the fact that they are buddies and kind of dorky, but Matt mirrors the dopey Masetto from Don Giovanni, and Ben the immature Cherubino from Figaro. Masetto loves Zerlina, and Cherubino is eventually paired with Barbarina, just as Matt and Ben land Zoe and Babs. (O Noez – teh sp0ilerz!!!!)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Schooling in "Cosi"

Through the magic of "The Google", I've found an English translation of Cosi fan Tutte online.

If you're coming to see the show - give it a read. If you're in the show, definitely give it a read.

The main page of this (Swiss?) site asks for a $1 donation. I can't vouche for this website in any way, but I of course believe we should all be good netizens...

Link also available on the lower right side of the page.

Cosi fan What-ee?

By now you may know that A Schooling in Love, or That’s What’s Up with Girls is adapted from the 1790 Mozart/DaPonte opera buffa Cosi fan Tutte, ossia La Scuola degli Amanti (“All Women are Like That or The School for Lovers”).

So, what is Cosi fan Tutte and what is it all about? Well, it is one of three shows by the 19th century superteam of W.A. Mozart and bad boy librettist Lorenzo DaPonte (more on Larry later). Their other two collaborations: The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni! (or, more technically, Le Nozze di Figaro, ossia La Folle Giornata and Il Dissoluto Punito, ossia Il Don Giovanni. – brownie points for the person who tells me what those mean!)

Cosi is sharp romantic comedy about infatuation and fidelity. The plot? Two young military officers (Ferrando and Guilielmo) brag that their fiancés (Fiordiligi and Dorabella) would be eternally faithful. Their boasts are overheard by a cynical, single, nobleman, Don Alfonso, who bets them that they are mistaken. The bet? The boys pretend to go off to war, and return disguised as two “Albanians.” They attempt to woo one another’s loves, and eventually succeed. Initially angry and heartbroken, the lovers decide that they have all learned a valuable lesson and get married despite the indiscretions. Sound familiar?

I know that Wikipedia can play it fast and loose with the facts sometimes, but here’s the entry on Cosi:ì_fan_tutte Give it a look.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Schooling in Love, from conversation to page to stage to page to stage...

The process that would yeild the musical version of A Schooling in Love began all the way back in 2002, when Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi were graduate students at New York University. They were busy adapting Mozart and Da Ponte's other two works, Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, into the comic opera Don Imbroglio and the play with music Going Down Swingin', both of which would be seen in the New York Musical Theater Festival some years later.

The question arose: What setting and genre could contain such a broad conceit as two lovers in foreign disguises which would not be apparent to their girlfriends? The answer: the modern teenage "sex" farce, a la American Pie, John Tucker Must Die, Fired Up, etc. Since they were not in the business of creating teen comedy at the time, the concept was tabled.

In 2006, Todd Mielcarz, the drama director at OEHS, asked Matt if he had any concepts suitable for production in the impressive theater at a newly built high school in Illinois. Matt set about fleshing out the concept from 2002 into a play, featuring music by Peter.

The original script of the play was performed in a series of readings by actors at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. First it was read for the author who rewrote and shortened the piece, then it was read for the students who would be auditioning for the roles at OEHS. (Then it was rewritten and shortened again.)

After the OEHS production (which was smooth and well-received), the piece was AGAIN edited, and then mothballed as Matt and Peter turned their efforts to the NY premiere of their Don Giovanni piece, Going Down Swingin'.

In 2008, Abington JuItalicnior High School approached Hilliard and Boresi with a question similar to that posed in 2006. Do you have any material suitable for high school use? That's when Schooling went back to the drawing board and was expanded and adapted into musical form.

More productions of Schooling are on the way!

The cast of the original, non-musical "Schooling".

Creating a new character is a unique and fulfilling experience. Any actor in a New Work is leaving an indelible imprint on their character, and laying groudwork for every actor who follows. The singers at Abington will be using a libretto affected by the work of the actors at Oswego, who used a script rewritten after the reading at NCC.
Below are the names of the talented young actors at Oswego East High School who first developed the romantically confused denizens of "DaPonte Community High School" in the non-musical version of Schooling.

Freddy A high school senior, boastful and high-strung, in love with Dori Matt Adams
Billy A high school senior, upstanding and gullible, in love with Lilly Brendan Healy
Dori A high school senior, prom committee chair, in love with Freddy Danielle Swanson

Lilly A high school senior, naïve and true, in love with Billy Kylie Schoenecker
Coach Al Track coach, newly bachelorized and disillusioned Nick Pankuch
Miss Thorne Music teacher and prom sponsor, career minded Farley Bennett
Dean Giovanni
Self-involved Vice Principal with an eye for Miss Thorne Carl Mohler
‘Senora’ Elvira
Spanish teacher and International Club sponsor Emily Steele
Head Custodian, Dean Giovanni’s right hand man Zach Hafenrichter
Nurse Mesmer
School Nurse, follower of modern pharmaceuticals trends Samantha Ford
Freshman cheerleader and perky prom committee intern Ashley Fischer
Sophomore pom prom committee intern, confident with boys Ashley Hamilton
Matt and Ben
Awkward upperclassmen in love with Zoe and Babs, respectively:
Jesse Green (understudy Freddy) and Erik Rodriguez

Male Students:
Clayton Johnson (understudy Billy)
Max Keil (understudy Leo)
Mike Schwartz (understudy Coach)
Sean Joy (understudy Dean)
Zach Gunty (understudy Matt & Ben)

Female Students:
Cavya Sharma (understudy Elvira)
Charise Walters (understudy Dori)
Heather Campos (understudy Babs)
Katie Apple (understudy Zoe)
Katie Shanks (understudy Lilly)
Kelsey Saurer (understudy Mesmer)
Nicolette Coleman (understudy Thorne)


Adriana Torrey
Ashley Torres
Jazmin Aguilar
Samantha Marshall
Zandrea Hafenrichter
Kaylee Faulkner

Cheerleaders (From the OEHS Varsity Squad!):
Britney Jacobson
Brittany Northrup
Danelle Carter
Meaghan Olsen
Melanie Zaragoza
Tiffany Spencer

North Central College students read "Schooling" for auditioners

On November 16th, 2006, students from the North Central College Theatre Department visited OEHS to perform a script-in-hand reading of A Schooling in Love for interested auditioners.

above: Lilly, Billy, Freddy, and Dori get a schooling in love.

The cast was as follows:

Freddy: Stephen Peebles
Dori: Lauren Omelson
Billy: Will Allan
Lilly: Rachel Glim
Coach: Nick Guido
Thorne: Kathy Musselman
Dean: David Kokandy
Elvira: Abby Kellerman
Leo: Jeff Horger
Mesmer: Megan O'Neil
Zoe: Antonia Jankowski
Babs: Maggie Wimp

above: Nurse Mesmer and Leo strike a love connection.
Many thanks are due to these very gifted actors, and special thanks to Steve Peebles for organizing the NCC cast! Find out about North Central College theatre at

above: OEHS students enjoy the best show ever?