MASQUE: The Performance of a Lifetime

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Courtesy of Angela Gloninger

OC students, Jasmine Heusey '14 and Angela Gloninger '14, performing with their Central Catholic counterparts in the musical, Working

Victoria Albacete, Staff Writer '14

The overture starts. The spotlights flare to life. The curtain opens.

The biggest smile in the world blinds the audience and you feel like you’ve just been electrified.

Welcome to Masque.

Masque is not just another theater group – Masque is a family. Our Masque family is a group of people who love to perform and do it well. In the eight or so weeks that we put together a musical, we form bonds that are incredibly difficult to break. Masque relationships are forged with the occasional spot of blood, buckets of sweat, and rivers of tears of frustration, sadness, and incredible joy. There is no better feeling in the world than the swoop of excitement that makes your stomach flip when the overture starts, no sensation more intense than the thrill that runs through your veins when the curtain opens and hundreds of eyes are focused on you.

The Masque family is continuous – it stretches all the way back to the very first show that the company ever put on and reaches forward to last performance it will ever do. Every year we wish our seniors well and speed them on their way, safe in the knowledge that they always have the family to come back to; every year we embrace a new generation of performers, our apprentices in the craft, and we show them all the magic that the stage can instill.

Masque is one of the most perfect relationships a performer can experience at Oakland and Central. The more you put in, the more you get out; the harder you work, the more magnificent the end product will be. And you know that saying: “It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters”? In Masque, the destination is an irrevocable part of the journey, the peak of the effort – the moment when all the friends you’ve made, all the family you’ve gained, everyone standing on that stage with you is completely and utterly one for some of the most fantastically, incredibly shining hours of your life.

By definition, Masque is a performance group. Auditions for the fall musical – usually a less well-known show – usually take place at the end of September for a run in late November or early December. Auditions for the spring musical – normally a more well-known show – take place in mid-to-late January or early February for a run in late March or early April, although the schedule for both musicals changes year by year. Spring musicals are always eligible for Gene Kelly nominations and Best Actor/Actress nominees are given the opportunity to perform on the Benedum stage; in the case that the spring musical wins a Best Musical nomination, the entire cast is invited to perform a number at the awards ceremony.

Let’s set the record straight right here, right now – if you don’t have time to commit 100% to Masque, don’t audition. You may want to be a star on the stage, but if you’ve already committed to two other sports and take private instrument lessons right after school, don’t waste your time. Masque is an awesome experience, but it’s only able to be that way because the cast and crew members are extremely committed to it. The average rehearsal schedule is as following: the first two weeks or so, twice or three times a week rehearsals, about 2-2 1/2 hours long, right after school. The next three weeks rehearsals are three or four times a week, usually about 2 1/2-3 hours long. The last two weeks before Tech Week tend to have practice every day for 3 hours.

The last week before opening night is called Tech Week, and boy, is it a doozy. Rehearsal starts at 3 PM sharp and we run (dinner included, by the way) the show until about 8 PM for three days straight. Then it’s opening night!

As you can see, the practice schedule is intense and requires a lot of dedication. So far, the general rehearsal attendance rule is: miss three rehearsals (any three!) and you’re out. It doesn’t matter if you have a lead, are an ensemble member, or have the world’s best duet. Everyone is treated equally.

Masque is an incredible group to be a part of – I know I feel incredibly honored to be able to participate in it and be a part of its traditions – but you have to be willing to give it your all.