Before the lights go down and rehearsal begins, Bradley Hall is full of movement. Stage Managers rush to check backstage, actors tie up their stage shoes, lines are being recited, props are being placed, and there is laughter in every corner of the room. Ten minutes later, once the cast has stretched and participated in a team huddle, all is silent. The stage lights go up and a colorful bookstore is brought to life.
In the upcoming Middle School play The Bookstore by Adam Szymkowicz, the future of a whimsical, almost magical bookstore is uncertain after the owner dies and leaves the shop to her niece Rachel. Rachel has a job in New York City that doesn’t pay her enough and she doesn’t have the time or patience to run a bookstore. When real estate magnate Max Brewer offers her more money than she can imagine turning the store into an apartment complex, her choice seems like a no-brainer. But as the shop works its magic on her and she gets to know the eccentric employees and clientele, she starts to wonder: Can you really put a price on a beloved community bookstore?
Quinn Burke ’28 plays Sven in the upcoming production. Before The Bookstore, Quinn had experience working in other productions, but never any at Beaver. About the show, she says “it’s really nice and charming. There’s something in it for everyone and it feels like it works well together as a story.” Sven is a character that was never quite on Quinn’s radar when it came to auditions but once she was cast and began rehearsing, she started to love him. “It’s pretty awesome. It’s a lot of fun. I’m always excited to go to rehearsal.”
The Bookstore is a show that sees many different plot lines and characters intersecting and growing apart. One can never predict which character- or room in the bookstore- will manifest on stage next. For an Assistant Stage Manager like Lulu Muwina ’27, this is the perfect show to explore creating sets; “We built the sets and made the designs, which was really fun. Painting the sets was a lot of time and work and was really fun.” A show with a rich cast of characters also opens the door for a lot of collaboration between the tech crew and the cast, which Lulu mentions is the best part of the experience.
Emerson Daly ’29 came to tech crew to try it out for the first time and she is already confident that she will return for future productions. “I like making the props, it’s really fun because you can use all of the different tools. I didn’t know how to use many of the tools in the beginning.”
For Kiernan Collins ’27, production of The Bookstore brought some nerve-wracking news that kept him up at night: he would be Stage Manager. Now that the show is only days away, Kiernan has grown in his confidence and his excitement for the production. “I feel mostly confident I can pull this off, I have a sister that is one of the stage officers in the upper school so I know it will work.”
Akin to tech crew, the cast of The Bookstore is also composed of students that are returning to the Beaver Performing Arts Department and students that are entirely new to it. For example, Mabel Forkner 27′ is making her Beaver Performing Arts debut in The Bookstore. Mabel is portraying Candace, the manager of the bookstore. As the manager, Candace is often the one guiding the cast (and the audience) through the complex rooms of books. “Candace is a happy go-lucky, optimistic character. Candace is more organized than I am. She also seems to have a more scheduled life.” With the show less than a week away, Mabel looks back at her time as Candace with a sparkle in her eye. “The whole process has been really fun with parts that are really tough.”