Visual and Performing Arts at Mercy
VPA students share their gifts and talents with the Mercy community at a number of performances throughout the school year, including: Fall Play, Winter Pops, Winter Dance Concert, and Spring Musical. In addition, student artists have the opportunity to write, direct, choreograph, and sing their own pieces in the annual Visual and Performing Arts Festival, a showcase for students in VPA classes.
Mercy High School produces two main stage theatre productions each school year. Our fall plays consist of dramas, comedies, mysteries, and Shakespearean classics. Our spring musicals explore the full canon of American musical theatre. Through warm ups, acting exercises, and rehearsals, students explore a variety of acting techniques and styles, and learn about the history of the theatre from its roots in Ancient Greece. Male students from schools across San Francisco join our casts and perform alongside Mercy students.
Mercy High School’s after-school dance program provides rigorous training for all levels of dancers. Professional dancers teach one-hour technique classes in jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet, and modern every day during the school week and on Saturdays. These classes are open to members of the local community who wish to expand their dance training and are aimed at developing the dancers’ ability to express oneself through movement, technical ability, and overall performance quality. The dance ensemble is made up of students who audition and are accepted into the program. These students attend regular rehearsals in addition to their technique classes, and perform in the Winter Dance Concert and Visual and Performing Arts Festival in the Spring. Additionally, our liturgical dancers, Mercy’s “Soul Sisters” are members of Mercy’s Dance Ensemble and provide a special service to our Campus Ministry program.
Mercy’s vocal ensemble, leads the student body as the Music Ministry choir for the school liturgical celebrations. Students who participate in Chamber Choir learn responsible rehearsal, vocal, and performance habits. The vocal ensemble performs jazz, classical, and popular/contemporary music as well as music from Broadway musicals.
Mercy students also have the opportunity to explore all of the facets of behind the scenes production by joining our Tech crew. Tech crew students design and construct sets, stage props, lighting, projection, and sound for all VPA productions throughout the year. During performances, Mercy students stage manage, run backstage changes, and operate the soundboard, light board, projection software and spotlights during productions. Additionally, our tech crew students are hired by outside theatre and dance companies to run the technical components of the performances they produce in Mercy’s theatre.
Spring Musical: Cinderella
April 5, 6, 12 & 13 2019
Mercy’s 2019 musical, Cinderella, was no Disney version of the famous fairy tale. This show's lead, Ella, emerged as a woman unafraid to talk to the Prince about serious issues, giving him much-needed advice on running the country. She was decidedly not portrayed as a passive female who finds her Prince Charming. In 2013, the Broadway revival featured a marked update of Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1957 rendition. The author, Douglas Carter Beane, wrote the characters with a more socially aware worldview. For example, one of the characters, Jean-Michel, publicly criticized the Prince, now called Topher, and his government. This 21st-century musical rendition reveals a royal couple who appreciate each other’s strong points. But it is perhaps the Fairy Godmother who makes the most dramatic change in the play with a magical moment of revelation.
A huge thank you goes out to Tim Mahoney, Steve Nori, Antonio Gonzalez, generous parents and the valiant Tech Crew who rallied together to build, paint and execute technical cues less than two weeks before opening night.
Winter Dance Concert: Sympathetic Vibrations
January 25, 26 & February 1, 2, 2019
Mercy's Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Joshua Ornelas, explored what it means to find your tribe and “vibrate at similar frequencies.” Many times in our lives we find a friend or a group of people that we feel a deep, inexplicable connection to. Through solos, duets, and large groups, dancers portray various aspects of personal identity while still committing to the whole of the community.
The dance ensemble welcomes back long time choreographers Jhyl Reid and Monique Goldwater, as well as Mercy High School alumna Patricia Lam '06, and introducing choreographer Ayana Yonesaka; with guest performances by requisitedance, a San Francisco-based, professional modern dance company.
Fall Play: The Third Wave
November 9, 10, 28, 2018
The Third Wave, based on high school teacher Ron Jones’ experiment in fascism, illustrates what happens to a teacher’s good intentions as his simulation rages out of his control in a matter of days. The time is 1967; the setting is a Palo Alto history class with the Vietnam War, racial integration and social revolution simmering in the background. This play, as well as numerous film and musical versions, remains popular around the world, especially in Germany and Israel.
We are very thrilled to have Mr. Ron Jones himself playing the older version of himself in the play (the now wiser old man who looks back on himself as a 22-year-old new teacher) as he watches and comments on the events of the six-day experiment. Mr. Jones will be available for the talk back after the performances as well as speakers from the Holocaust Center and the Farkas Center.
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