Grease paint and its smell are often linked with the theater stage, but a recent day at Belmont High School stage produced the smell of a different paint — latex.
“We don’t have a real auditorium for theater productions,” said Meredith Imbimbo, director of the school's upcoming production of "Once Upon a Mattress."
As a result, she said, “each year we must create a set from scratch here in the cafeteria.”
There was creation all over the room on Saturday when more than 30 people hammered, sawed and painted during what is known as "tech day."
After weeks of rehearsals, it's an all-encompassing effort to build a set, get squared away with costuming, and figure out staging, lighting and designs.
The 30 workers consisted of friends, relatives, parents, siblings and, of course, performers. They got a chance to learn about a stage play from top to (and especially) bottom.
This year’s show, "Once Upon A Mattress," is a play written by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer that was adapted from a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, set in 15th century Europe. One of the major pieces of the set is a six-foot-high platform on which are piled many mattresses.
The Tony Award-winning play is filled with characters and situations written to bring joy to the audience and to allow the actors a chance to have fun.
The principal players are a queen, king, a prince and princess as well as a jester, wizard and minstrel.
The cast features many experienced thespians, including some of each class in the school. Amelia Cluett is a freshman whose role is a lady-in-waiting to Princess Winnifred. She has performed in numerous shows and especially enjoyed playing in a Streetcar Production of "Into The Woods."
“Playing someone else gives me a chance to step out of my personal box,” she said.
Kelly Hayes, a 17-year-old senior who will be Princess Winnifred, said she finds being on stage fulfilling.
"When the audience responds to my performance, I feel that my hard work in creating something has paid off,” she said.
Along with several others, Hayes worked with her costumes in preparation for the opening night — in this case, next Friday, March 15.
Kelly’s father, Tim, has assisted in a variety of roles over the years in constructing sets. “I really like Kelly doing stage performance," he said. "I’ve been doing this for quite some time.”
Several BHS faculty members were also part of the construct crew. Richard Bergskaug was hard at work creating the critical mattress platform.
“I’ve done this several years,” he said. “I like doing it and helping out.”
Those words were echoed by English teacher Anthony Harrison as he was pulling on gloves to pitch in. Harrison ia a Belmont High graduate who received two degrees at the University of New Hampshire and returned home to teach.
Senior Michael Marrone is a renaissance man in high school; as well as taking a role on stage, he is a shot putter on the track team and a New Hampshire All State musician. Michael's feelings about being an actor are enjoying it as a “form of expression and getting a reaction from the audience.”
This is Imbimbo's first effort as a director, though she has plenty of stage experience.
“I love this group of performers,” said Imbimbo, who works at the school as a special education teacher. “And a day like this teaches them how to work together and accept adversities that come their way. It is great to be surrounded by students, teachers and parents all working together.”
"Once Upon A Mattress" will be performed at Belmont High School on Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 17, at 1 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.