Audiences likely won’t be aware of it, but behind the scenes of Mountain Pointe High School Theatre Company’s final production of the school year this weekend, there’s a little bit of melancholy.
That’s because it will be the final curtain call at Mountain Pointe for some of the senior actors, actresses and crew members bringing Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor” alive at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 2, and Friday, May 3, at the school, 4201 E. Knox Road, Ahwatukee.
Some of the seniors have been part of the theater company all four years, and with graduation only a few weeks away, they’ll be setting their sights possibly on continuing their thespian activities in college.
“The end of the year is always hard but like I tell my students, ‘I have trained you all to go onto bigger and better things’ and look forward to seeing how they will succeed in life,” said Kim Bonagofski, who has been directing and teaching at Mountain Pointe for 11 years and who is directing “The Good Doctor.”
At the same time, the last play of the season also brings a few months respite for the unseen and unsung “players” – the booster club.
Only about a half dozen parents have worked all year providing a long list of services to the theater company.
They assist with purchasing costumes, props, stage equipment, scripts and overall fundraisers. They provide dinners, snacks, water and transportation for students during rehearsals and productions as well as volunteer during each production selling concessions, raffles and tickets.
“In short, our booster team is extremely responsive to requests from teachers and students’ needs,” said booster President Kim Artusa. “As a result, students receive whatever support they need to make for a successful production.”
The parents are motivated partly because their children are involved.
For example, Artusa’s daughter has been in the theatre program her entire time at Mountain Pointe. She will be a senior next year and plans on attending NAU Honor College in 2020.
But there’s a deeper motivation as well, Artusa said.
“The booster team and I are motivated purely by these extremely talented and dedicated students,” she said. “We love their excitement in the program and providing them with a positive experience where they feel supported.”
And it’s not just because high school theater groups like Mountain Pointe’s give the young thespians a taste for acting.
“Personally, I feel the program provides these students with teamwork, discipline, commitment and leadership skills that are life skills,” Artusa said.
“The Good Doctor” should not be confused with the TV series off the same name.
The Mountain Pointe production is the Neil Simon comedy that enjoyed a year-long run on Broadway in the mid-1970s.
“I read the script and fell in love with the characters and the stories being told,” Bonagofski said, explaining why she chose it.
“We are doing this production where the audience is sitting around the stage,” she added. “I am also setting this in the modern day.”
Bonagofski said the audience can expect a laugh riot with “nine stories, all of them comedic, in your face, melodramatic fun.”
The play has been described as “a composite of Neil Simon and Anton Chekhov” with stories that “are droll, the portraits affectionate, the humor infectious and the fun unending,” according to one synopsis.
During its debut, critics hailed Simon’s “warmth and humor in his retelling of these Chekhovian tales.” The New York Times noted, “There is much fun here. Mr. Simon’s comic fancy is admirable.” - The New York Times.”
The cast includes Cedric Beck, Patrick Keyser, Alayjia Marcelin, Andre Presume, Jayla Alston, Lexi Powers, Chandler Hathaway, Alvin Grio, Lexi Artusa-Sirota, Jeffrey Maples, Julianne Porter, Drew Stanek, Madison Smith, Ali Adelis, Trevor Stout, Ethan Briant and Tyler Acaird.
Stage Managers are Teresa Chavez and Cameron Clark and the technical director is Bekka Weier.
The rest of the crew includes Bella Alati, Myles Thomas, Kramer Angelo, Leliani Mondragon, Kiani Laroya, Shayla Polland, Addie Harvey, Taylor Simmons, Zarkeyiah Kuykendal, Mikaela Romo, Emelia Robertson, Jayla Alston, Clare Kulaga. Lexi Powers, Julianne Porter, Trevor Stout and Drew Stanek.