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    • The cast of Daniel Rocket hangs out in between rehearsals.

The Cast of Daniel Rocket Flies to the Stage

Leah Miller ’20 Assistant Arts Editor
October 11-13 marked the kickoff of the Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) season with the fall production of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket.
Directed by Drama instructor Mike Calderone, the play explores the magical world of childhood and harsh adult realities as seen through the eyes of Daniel, an intelligent, socially awkward outcast who believes he has found the key to human-powered flight. Act I introduces Mrs. Rice’s sixth grade class working out their social norms, friendships, and classwork while dreaming about their futures. Daniel is a strange kid with big dreams, one friend and an infatuation for that special girl he’d like to impress; he plans to impress her by jumping off a cliff to show her how he can fly. Act II returns twenty years later to the town, which has changed since those fateful childhood years.

This particular show was unique for HDA, as it had a smaller cast than most productions. Cast member Griffin Congdon ’20 said, “Daniel Rocket was a much different show than I’ve done in the past, as it was a very intimate cast size. ” Peter Graham ’20 went on to express his appreciation for the cast: “It was a special cast, and one I was lucky to perform alongside.”

With such a core ensemble of players, came a very speedy deadline, as the show was set to open merely a month after the rehearsal process began. Originally, this posed a concern to some members of the cast. Graham stated that “when we got closer to the show I was worried we weren’t gonna be able to pull it off, but gladly I was proved wrong. All three nights everyone was bursting with energy.” The cast and crew prevailed, with standing ovations every night.

In addition to the intense energy of the show, The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket posed an acting challenge. The first act is composed of sixth graders, and the actors are forced to reflect the experience of
much younger individuals. In Act II the sixth graders are all grown up, and return to their hometown as adults.

Graley Turner ’20 said, “The real challenge for all of us was differentiating between our Act I characters and our Act II characters. Since there is a twenty-year time difference, we all really had to figure out what happened during those twenty years.”

Props Master Elizabeth Roy ’20 commented on the taxing acting challenge, as well: “It was fun to see the cast get to explore their roles and delve into the challenge of being twelve one minute, and thirty-two the next.” The playwright, Peter Parnell, is not only known for his theatrical works, but also for his work with children’s literature. It makes sense that this is reflected in a show that so closely relates human nature with that of children.

A prominent aspect of Daniel Rocket is the intensity of the content, and the polar mood shift between the two acts. Nate Stratton ’19 said, “Act I is lighthearted: filled with the fun elements of being a little kid. Act II is heavy, filled with chilling parallels and a heartbreaking ending.” Stratton continued and said, “The play is raw and intriguing. Never have laughter and despair been so closely intertwined.”

The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, though short in rehearsal time and cast size, was huge in impact. The cast members enjoyed being apart of the theatrical process, and as Ellie Doolittle ’20 said, “The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket is definitely a show full of RISING stars!”
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