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Thomas Jefferson fall play full of laughs with secret agents

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
South Hills Record
Cast members of Thomas Jefferson High School’s fall play, “Get Smart,” rehearse a scene. They are, from left, Shoueb Mamoor as Professor Dante and Jamie Pasquinelli as Agent 99. Sam Robbins | submitted photo
Cast members of Thomas Jefferson High School’s fall play, “Get Smart,” rehearse a scene. They are, from left, Carmen LoPresti as Maxwell Smart, Jamie Pasquinelli as Agent 99 and Erin Lazar. Sam Robbins | Submitted photo

Everything was “top secret” at Thomas Jefferson High School, as students whispered in each other's ears and shied away from revealing the details behind that “big, flashy gadget.”

“Just like spies,” high school senior Carmen LoPresti, 18, said as he muttered a deep, almost devious sounding laugh.

Even off of the stage as they prepared for this year's fall play, “Get Smart,” cast members stayed in character, leaving those seated in the high school auditorium in stitches as they cracked jokes. Yet, they kept nearly everything under wraps as to how they would solve the crimes — through all of the twists and turns, kidnappings and innovations — on stage.

Thomas Jefferson High School theater will present “Get Smart” at 7:30 p.m. today, Thursday, and Saturday in the school auditorium, 310 Old Clairton Road, Jefferson Hills.

The “throwback” show is a remake of the 2008 film staring Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway and the 1960s television series staring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon.

The comedy, “Get Smart,” focuses on Maxwell Smart, a clumsy, yet somehow always sucessful secret agent and his partner “Agent 99,” who work for CONTROL, a secret U.S. counter intelligence agency and fight various crimes using secret gadgets.

“It's funny. It's got a goofy sense of humor,” said director and Thomas Jefferson High School English and Theater teacher Julie Tipton. “It's just a classic story of good versus evil.”

With slapstick humor, audience interactions, technical and theatrical surprises and a shocking ending, this upbeat show is certain to be a hit with all ages, the director and cast members alike agreed.

“The show is constantly moving and it's easy to follow,” LoPresti said.

This show has always been a favorite of Tipton's, after all, it has her silly, quirky sense of humor, she said.

Yet, many of the cast members said they knew little or nothing of “Get Smart,” except maybe from the 2008 remake or looking over the shoulder of their older siblings and parents as they watched the original show on television.

The funky gadgets and humorous lines in the show, though, were a hit with the high school cast.

“I like everything about it,” said junior Alyssa Gephart, 17, who plays Miss Finch. “It's a cool show.”

And this year, with 90 percent of Thomas Jefferson's male theater participants graduating, it was one of the last times in a few years that a show like this could be done, cast members said.

After performing adaptations of high school and younger shows for the last three years with “Romeo and Juliet: Together and Alive at Last,” “Humbug High” and “Canterbury Tales,” this was a show cast members said they were ready for and they're ready to portray adults and extend their acting talents, cast members agreed.

“I was waiting for a show like this,” LoPresti said.

The fast paced show has something for everyone.

“The show takes from everything from history, to local ties to action to pyrotechnics to science to comedy. There's a reference to sports in there, as well as ingenuity,” said senior Shoueb Mamoor, 18, who plays Professor Dante.

But listen closely, because much of the humor is in the words.

“You could miss it. It could go totally over your head,” said senior Jamie Pasquinelli, 17, who plays Agent 99.

While the show has those technical surprises, cool set pieces and humorous lines, cast members agree that its their relationship with on another that will make the show shine.

“We're family,” Gephart said. “We spend every day with each other. I think it shows off and on the stage.”

Rehearing together each day after school since late September — except for when Mother Nature or building conflicts got in the way — has united this cast.

“We definitely all have fun,” LoPresti said.

“We feed off of each other,” Mamoor said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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