North by Northwest Hits the Stage

To celebrate a classic Hitchcock movie’s 60th birthday and break new ground with technological opportunities in the Black Box theatre, the RSGC Senior Drama program embarked on adapting North by Northwest for the stage. 
The timing was synchronized with the film course and a peaked interest in using media arts skills to combine live action and immersive video projections. The actors worked in an effective ensemble to interact with a 10 metre-wide, 180-degree screen with rear projection to bring to life the classic film noir extended chase replete with psychological intrigue, romance, betrayal and hard-boiled witty banter. 

The plot begins with Roger Thornhill (played expertly by Nick Vassos) finding himself mistakenly identified by scheming spies from the dark side (diabolically portrayed by RJ Steele and Daniel Raymond) as an enemy agent. Attempts to dispose of Roger include digitally enhanced dramatic scenes of chaotic car chases, low-flying aircraft and a shoot-out on Mount Rushmore. 

An original score created by students from the electronic music composition club accompanied the tense atmosphere and lent urgency felt by the audience, as surround sound filled the theatre. The escalating pace was peppered with wit and charm as Roger and the femme fatal, Eve (parlayed deftly by Beatrice Nusink from St. Patrick’s School) played an emotional chess game that kept the audience from knowing true allegiances until the curtain.

Moments of comedy gave the audience some breathers. Aaron Nash, auctioneer, and his assistant Anna Herbst (from St. Clements School) exemplified the chemistry of the supporting cast. Many students played multiple roles, including henchmen Greg Costigan and James Blanco; murder victim Kevin Tsambalieros, who doubled as a French maître d’; Madison Ave. executives, Gavin Taylor, Ben Galarce and Max Rovazzi; officers, Oliver Armstrong and Fraser Schaffer; and narrator Jackson Shibley. 

The speedy maneuvering of the many scenes was handled by Marcus Hine and Wyatt Carling, who were quarterbacked by Tech Director Graydon Benson. The flowing sounds and scenery of the panoramic screen and soundscape were sourced, developed and delivered by the tireless creative efforts of the design team, Lucas Wurstlin, Joey Lisser and Graydon. The huge task of transforming the Black Box Theatre into a virtual world combining the best of live performance and digital atmosphere was an impressive group effort.