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New Westhampton drama club debuts this weekend

  • Veronica Brennan, left, and Amanda Adams act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school.

    Veronica Brennan, left, and Amanda Adams act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lucas Fitzpatrick, right, the advisor of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club works with Veronica Brennan, from left, Jasmin Lively and Ben Fitzpatrick Monday at the school.

    Lucas Fitzpatrick, right, the advisor of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club works with Veronica Brennan, from left, Jasmin Lively and Ben Fitzpatrick Monday at the school. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jasmin Lively rehearses Monday during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club at the school.

    Jasmin Lively rehearses Monday during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club at the school. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maura Ronan, far left, acts opposite Ben Fitzpatrick during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school. Looking on in the background are, from left, Calista Bulman, Emily Howell and Amanda Adams.

    Maura Ronan, far left, acts opposite Ben Fitzpatrick during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school. Looking on in the background are, from left, Calista Bulman, Emily Howell and Amanda Adams. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amanda Adams, left, and Veronica Brennan act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school.

    Amanda Adams, left, and Veronica Brennan act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Calista Bulman, from left, Amanda Adams and Ben Fitzpatrick act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school.

    Calista Bulman, from left, Amanda Adams and Ben Fitzpatrick act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Veronica Brennan, left, and Amanda Adams act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school.
  • Lucas Fitzpatrick, right, the advisor of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club works with Veronica Brennan, from left, Jasmin Lively and Ben Fitzpatrick Monday at the school.
  • Jasmin Lively rehearses Monday during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club at the school.
  • Maura Ronan, far left, acts opposite Ben Fitzpatrick during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school. Looking on in the background are, from left, Calista Bulman, Emily Howell and Amanda Adams.
  • Amanda Adams, left, and Veronica Brennan act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school.
  • Calista Bulman, from left, Amanda Adams and Ben Fitzpatrick act during a meeting of the Hampshire Regional Middle School drama club Monday at the school.

And they are well-prepared and ready to impress thanks to a new middle school drama club, said Hampshire Regional alumnus and club leader Lucas Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick, 19, of Southampton, started the club in September with the help of English teacher Michael Braidman, who leads the school’s drama company for both middle and high school students.

The school had separate high school and middle school drama clubs until they were combined when Braidman became advisor in 2006. Now, middle schoolers can be in the company’s plays, and often are, but they have to compete for roles with more experienced, older students, Fitzpatrick said.

“Middle schoolers audition, they don’t get the part, and then we never see them again. We lose their interest,” he said. “If they really have interest in drama, it’s a drag that they don’t get involved and develop their skills.”

That’s why he and Braidman decided to restart the middle school club, although the group does not have plans to do any productions of its own.

Their meetings after school on Mondays are usually attended by seven to 15 students, Fitzpatrick said. They hone their acting skills and even do practice auditions so they are more prepared to try out for all-school plays or musicals.

They also prepare for opportunities to perform like“Improvisketchalogues,” a collaborative performance of improvisational and sketch comedy and monologues that takes place this weekend. Interested students in the club are rehearsing monologues, some from movies or plays, and getting feedback from Fitzpatrick and other members.

“I expect a lot from them because I see a lot of potential and a lot of interest from them,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’re a bunch of really good kids and I’ve seen a lot of kids with that kind of interest fall through the cracks before.”

After graduating from Hampshire Regional in 2011, Fitzpatrick took a year and a half off to work and is now hoping to study theater at Westfield State University. He has also been teaching improvisational comedy seminars at Springfield Technical Community College.

In addition to the performances of classical and comedic monologues at the annual “Improvisketchalogues” show Friday and Saturday, the school’s improvisational comedy troupe, “Improvers Anonymous,” will act out student-written sketches and scenes based on audience-suggested situations. The theme of this year’s show is “retellings of timeless works of literature,” Braidman said. The school’s a cappella group, the Insingeraiders, will also sing a few songs.

Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the school at 19 Stage Road. Admission is $5 at the door and all proceeds will go to the AmeriCares Disaster Relief fund to aid in the recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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