Broadway star amazes Advanced Drama class

Broadway “veteran” Lois Grandi, who recently assisted in teaching the courses of the Advanced Drama class, departed on Oct. 4 after two weeks at CVHS.

Grandi, who has starred in numerous shows on Broadway including Carousel, The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and Oklahoma! was invited by David Judson, a CVHS drama teacher, after she had been his director in the performance of Chicago during the summer. Grandi was the founder and artistic director of her own personal business, Playhouse West, a small yet strikingly successful theater company in the Bay Area.

Judson invited Grandi to help with the class, sensing that it would be an extremely useful and productive way to start the year, which proved to be true. Many students feel like they have improved their acting skills due to the “different” teachings of the director.

Senior Malia Leines strongly insisted that Grandi’s lessons were a bit different than what her class was normally used to, but that, overall, it was a very beneficial experience.

“She certainly was different in how she was really direct and forward about what she wanted,” Leines stated. “She focused on improvising and building character as opposed to the traditional ‘get your lines memorized.’”

Another helpful yet foreign activity Leines recalled was a game called “Tell Us About The Time,” in which students were to imagine scenarios that their characters were in and improvise to try and fit them into the situation, making up background information for unexplained scenes. The class did this and other activities for practice of shows including Steel Magnolias, Rabbit Hole, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to list a few.

“She’s a big Broadway source,” Leines continued. “She definitely helped us all a lot and we learned a bunch from the whole thing.”

“I can tell I’ve changed a lot. I feel like, as a whole, we’ve all become a lot more realistic in our acting,” agreed junior Kelsey Wood.

Even experienced drama teacher Tiffany Daily acquired new techniques from Grandi.

“Everybody, including Mr. Judson and myself, learned a lot through working with her,” explained Daily.

Regardless of whether Grandi will return in the future, this was quite an opportunity for the Advanced Drama students, who were privileged in working with her. As shown by these students, Grandi’s presence has truly paid off.

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