On the weekend of May 18 and 19, The Garden Players, an after-school drama class, will once again perform their annual musical production at the Forest Hills Community House, located at 15 Borage Pl.
This year is their first performance of “The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever.”
In the past, the Garden Players have performed productions such as “Musicville,” “Space Pirates” and a series of fantasy-filled, family-friendly musicals and show tunes, all with a hint of humor. The same concept is applied once again, but instead of monsters and aliens, it's a backyard birthday party gone wrong.
The musical starts off with a group of kids attending a birthday party, when they suddenly realize that all the adults have vanished. There is no food in the house, the front door is locked and they must “survive” by themselves until the adults come back.
“We actually first got the idea when Hurricane Sandy happened,” said Betina Hershey, director of the Garden Players since 2003. “We thought, what would happen if we made a musical centering around a complete disaster?”
“An apocalyptic situation,” she added.
The melodramatic musical sprouts into a full show of hilarity as the children attempt to survive for what seems like months, but in reality only lasts for a few hours.
From attempting to make pizza for fuel, to separating into societies (“Skymerica” and “Charlandia”), to lonely monologues from a girl stuck in the bathroom, the community group does it again.
The Garden Players are a mixture of Queens students in first through ninth grades, who meet once a week for rehearsals in Forest Hills' Church-in-the-Gardens. The group has worked on the show for months with the help of parent volunteers Hershey and Denver Casado.
“The kids are really excited right now,” Hershey said. “This year we've really allowed the kids to help out in the production, which has really been giving the project a community feel.”
Hershey added that the group has hosted benefit concerts to raise funds for the production, allowing them to formulate a safer and more innovative performance.
“There is a lot of work and money that goes into producing these musicals every year,” she said. “From paying the stage rent, the accompanists, to sets, to paint supplies, to costumes - it adds up.”
This year they have made some advancements, from purchasing fireproof set paint to muslin cloth backdrops. The musicals have certainly improved from the past where everything came from the wallets of parents.
“The most exciting moment in producing the musical would probably be the excitement after and during our first show,” Hershey explained. “All the kids are so happy, they realize that all their work has paid off. They realize, ‘Oh, so that's why I'm doing it!’”
Saturday performances at The Community House will be held at 2 and 7 p.m. and on Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m. Tickets are $14 and will be sold at the door. You can also call (917) 204-5647 to purchase in advance.