On Wednesday, 21 students from Mrs. Reilly’s drama class spent the morning in the rough-and-tumble section of South Boston’s Lower End and the early afternoon in the well-to-do area of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts as they observed Margie, Mike, Kate, Jean, Dottie, and Stevie try to be good people — or at least, that’s what it felt like.
The drama class actually attended the matinee showing of Good People at American Stage in downtown St. Petersburg but it seemed as if they were dropped into the aforementioned locales due to the authentic portrayal of people who grow up in “Southie,” a working-class neighborhood of South Boston depicted in movies like The Departed and Good Will Hunting. The 2011 play by David Lindsay-Abaire, which was nominated twice for Tony Awards, follows Margie Walsh, a lifelong South Boston resident, who gets fired from her job and eventually searches for employment from Mike, a former Southie who is now a doctor living in the affluent section of Chestnut Hill.
“It’s extremely important and plays huge dividends in their growth and development,” said Mrs. Reilly, when asked the importance of attending drama performances. “High schools across the country are cutting out drama programs and it negatively affects students. Kids need to be able to express themselves in ways that are different outside the normal academic curriculum.”
For Luke Markus ‘17, it was a chance to sink his teeth into a subject he’s been passionate about since as long as he can remember.
“The play resonated with a lot of us because it spoke from the heart,” said Luke, a day student who has been attending Farragut since the seventh grade. “It felt like you were immersed in someone’s daily life. It was genuine and authentic and you could really get a sense of what life must be like in South Boston.”
When Luke moved to St. Petersburg from Canada with his family in 2007, he already had the acting bug due to his grandmother’s participation in Broadway years ago. Growing up, Luke often attended shows either in New York or Canada.
During his time at Farragut, he’s participated in two drama club plays as an actor while also acting and working on the crew in several productions at American Stage and the Palladium. This school year, he will perform in the drama club’s production of Sherlock.
Yet, even though he has the passion for acting, he anticipates joining the Marines once he graduates in the spring.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the best boarding school in USA because my great-grandfather was a drill sergeant in the Army during World War II and the Korean War,” Luke said.
Ironically, Renata Eastlick, who portrays Kate (the wife of Mike) in the Good People, was in JROTC in a high school in Miami before she moving to New York at 18 years old to begin acting.
“That’s really cool she did that because it gives me inspiration that I can be in the Marines and then come back to acting when I’m done,” said Luke.
Luke was one of several students from Farragut who participated during the question-and-answer session following the performance.
Alycia Mora ‘17, who is in her fourth year at Farragut, offered an insightful thought when the show moderator asked if Margie, the main character played by Rebecca Dines, was a good person or bad person.
“I don’t necessarily think she’s good or bad but she is just doing what she needs to do for her survival and her daughter’s survival,” Alycia said.
Mrs. Reilly has already made plans to take the drama class back to the American Stage in the spring to watch the performance of Hairspray, a long-running Broadway musical that won eight Tony Awards in 2003.