Gorman’s Final Musical Act Marks a Time of Change and Satisfaction

Every year, Deerfield’s musical is one of the performances that the whole school and community comes together for. Showing March 6th through 10th, this year’s musical Crazy for You, written by Ken Ludwig, will certainly be unique, both because of the effort put into it and also because it will be theatre director Susan Gorman’s last musical and major production at DHS.

Crazy for You is definitely an engaging choice for this year’s production. In certain ways, the storyline is the standard boy-meets-girl arc, but what makes the plot interesting is the different small interactions between all of the characters. Bobby Child, the main character, is secretly trying to audition for the dance show Zangler’s Follies. Along the way, he falls for Polly Baker, the daughter of the owner of the dying Gaiety Theater. So, he creates a plan involving the Follies to save the theatre and win over Polly. However, things naturally do not go as planned, and that is where the drama ensues.
Gorman chose this musical to give variety in the style of musicals performed at the school. In the past couple of years, the musicals have been the “big bang stuff” that use a more contemporary musical style, such as Legally Blonde, The Addams Family, and Sister Act. Crazy for You is a cross between that contemporary feel and the classical set-up, featuring George Gershwin’s music; music that Gorman said is familiar in the sense that it’s “music we probably know, but don’t know where from.”

Currently, Gorman has not spent time thinking about retirement. She is dedicated entirely to the present and the work she has left to do right now. She described her current mindset, saying, “When you do this job, you do this job.” There is so much that needs to get done in the timespan available that it is easy to get caught up in the buzz. However, she explained that every once in a while she does get these moments where she looks at the students and realizes how much she will miss it all. And because she is so invested in this show, Gorman does not feel any extra pressure simply due to this being her final performance.

The students participating in this year’s musical, however, do feel some extra pressure when it comes to performing. “I don’t think she’s putting pressure on us,” said Margaret Weiner, a cast member in Crazy for You and a long-time student of Ms. Gorman’s. “But I think we are all putting pressure on ourselves because we want Ms. Gorman to have good memories of her last show and to be proud.”

This attitude is clearly shared by the rest of this year’s cast and crew, as well any students who have had to chance to work with Gorman. She is an integral part of an already intense process; one that makes the theatre community at DHS very tight-knit. Another thing that brings the cast and crew together during the spring musical is the immense amount of pressure and commitment that the group has in common. “I feel like there is a special bond that is formed because there is a lot of trust that people will learn their parts,” Weiner said. She also went on to state that the feeling that brings the group together cannot be precisely described, but that it is a sort of mutual bond that pulls people together through a shared sense of responsibility.

This pressure is not just limited to the actors, however. The show’s crew feels this same pressure on themselves as well. The crew plays a crucial role in making sure that the show runs smoothly and that the actors will be accentuated in a way that allows for clear and effective storytelling. Scenic artist and long-time crew member Abbie Horwitz said, “There’s a lot of pressure to make this her best show ever on both aspects of crew and acting. Our set is huge and is a challenge to build, but we do what we have to for the show.”

When Gorman retires at the end up the year, she won’t be the only one adjusting to that change—the students will have to adjust as well. Partially because the students will have to become acquainted with the new director, since they will not know this new director and Gorman’s replacement will not know any of them, either. “Without Ms. Gorman, our whole group dynamic will be completely different without her getting very into the scene with the actors,” said Horwitz. “Our R-Hall circle will be incomplete without her.” The students will have to show their worth again, removing any comfort, in the sense that the new director will not still know what they have done or can do if an audition goes awry. They will also have to try and rebuild the sort of trust and rapport Gorman has with her students, which is not easily replaced. However, Gorman is excited for the students to get this new opportunity. While it may be hard, especially for the rising seniors, this is a chance for every person to expand on their skills and practice auditioning to a brand new group.

And despite any initial hesitations, ultimately, the students feel this way as well. “It’s definitely going to be difficult because it’s almost like I’m coming back for freshman year. Like, it’s a whole new director who doesn’t know how we work together as a group,” Jaine Oken, who plays Patricia Fodor in the musical, described. “So, I think it’s going to be awkward for a little bit, and then I’m sure we will warm up to whoever it is.”

Towards the end of the year, auditions for the first fall play happen even before the new school year starts. However, they will not know what their new director will be like. They will have to audition without knowing what the director will be looking for, how the director will run rehearsal, or an introduction into the style and feel of the new director. But this is a challenge that the students have to take.

Gorman hopes that this new theatre director will have “some of the values we treasure in this school,” especially in terms of building a sense of community. This is mainly because those ideas were also important to Gorman when she first started in her role as theatre director. She had originally taken the position after the previous director had gone on a sabbatical. Gorman explained that she took the job because “nothing makes you feel as good as the process of doing high school theatre.” She enjoys the friendships and bonds that only form within high school theatre because people spend so much time together in such a meaningful part of their life.

It is certain that Gorman has had a profound impact on these students. Not only is she able to get students excited to perform and motivated enough to put all their effort into learning their lines and blocking, but she also creates an environment full of support to do those things in. That environment is paramount according to Gorman, who stands firm in her belief that “the most important thing is the way we treat each other.” Even just from small interactions between Gorman and the musical cast, it is easy to see that this value holds strong to everyone. Gorman hopes that this is something that remains long after her departure and that it keeps building on itself every year. Oken feels that Gorman truly lives by these principles when she interacts with the students. “Ms. Gorman has definitely done a lot for me personally, and I think everybody individually. She is like such a fantastic like role model and teacher. And she just really knows what she’s doing.”

Gorman manages to also profoundly impact the crew as well. Horwitz elaborates how expansive Gorman’s reach is. She connects well with the students and allows people to experiment in both acting and crew. As for class, she is understanding in letting students get extensions or have free days when they really need it. “She is also an amazing person to go to if you need someone to talk to,” Horwitz described.
Additionally, Gorman wants students to be reminded to have fun with what they do; be in the moment and really enjoy their passions. Time passes by quickly, and so Gorman wants students to cherish the moments they have now. Furthermore, she hopes that the students are an educated audience as they leave DHS—that they will know what quality in entertainment is and treasure its presence in their lives. As for next year: the hope is that DHS’ vibrant theatre program will continue to thrive.

“I am optimistic,” Oken said. “It’ll be a great year next year.”