SANDY HOOK -  Science and technology took a back seat to drama and literature last month as students at MAST, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, stage a murder mystery dinner theater featuring the creative writing of senior Caroline Davidson, who wrote and directed the production.

Davidson, of Brielle, also wrote last year’s production and directed both mysteries, which involved the audience in trying to determine who was the murderer.

This year’s production was set in 17th century Massachusetts and featured ministers, witches, guards, and family members and involved students from all four grades at the high school portraying characters flawlessly in spite of only two weeks practice and keeping up with the school’s normally heavy academic load.

Members of the school’s Culinary Arts Club provided the turkey dinner for the more than 100 guests who attended the one-time performance, with Courtney McAleese the cupcake master who produced 25 dozen home baked and decorated cupcakes within a 24-hour period.  Billy Kaiser and student advisor Carolyn Kaiser headed the kitchen crew, which included Paige Small, Danielle Berger, Dominique Lengyel, Cameo Mooney, Mason Leong, Melanie Vasquez, Alexis Chow and Miriam Badre.  Kitchen Manager Francis Haddad oversaw the culinary action and students who prepared the meal also served it to the guests.       

During the intermission, Kiernan Bates provided a variety of vocal music with Max Kaiser the piano soloist.  Courtney Williams was sound engineer, and Caroline Davidson, Dominique Lengyel and Victoria Danielak provided the painting and settings for the two-act play. Costumes were created by Shaena Harasty and advisor Carol Johns.

The play was the main thing for an evening of unique and talented entertainment, with sophomore Scott Harrington showing an amazing acting ability as the play’s main character, Father Chadwick. He was amply surrounded by talented Danielle Berger as his wife, and Olivia Davidson, the director’s sister, as a very expressive and sensitive servant. Kat Zic, a fast talking and animated senior, drew the first applause for the evening with her performance as a sorcerer.

Junior Will Davis also delighted the audience with his quick wit, outgoing personality and natural acting ability as Simon Finch, one of the suspected murderers. Senior Seth Britton, who in his NJROTC life serves at MAST as drill commander, and John Lavelle and Maureen McLean, the trio with the shortest stage time, brought more animation and significant character development to their parts. Junior Francesca Lavelle could be heading for a stage career with her mobile and vivid facial expressions.   

“While we celebrate the advances of science and mathematics, it is the arts, the humanities that give expression and meaning to those advances,” said Johns, who advised the students throughout the rehearsals for the play. “So whether it is an actor, delivering a funny line through a high-tech sound system, the audience who responds, a writer who finds her script used in a blockbuster film, or the audience who receives it, it is in those moments we achieve connection. That is why supporting the arts is important--it connects us to each other and helps us to understand our place in time.”