Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville wrapped up their fall production of The Sound of Music on Friday evening.
“This is the last opportunity that the seniors will be in my show. The spring show is directed by my partner,” said Jeff Polito, theater teacher at Fontainebleau and Southeastern alumni. “They’ve spent four years here. Our program gets really tight. They get close to each other, and they get close to us. So it’s kind of an emotional experience, but they’re going to do a great job tonight, and it’s because of that relationship they have built.”
Seniors Shelby Duhé and Lizzie Duhon agreed friendship is their favorite part of theater.
“All walks of life come together. We just bond over this one thing,” said Duhé , who played Maria.
“Everyone is so different, but yet there are common grounds. It’s so nice to find,” said Duhon, who played Mother Abbess.
Approximately 50 students, including cast and crew, worked on this production. However, the growing theater department at Fontainebleau is close to 90 students.
When Polito came to the theater department in 2005, the auditorium seating over 500 had only been built a year prior. Over 100 students were interested in using that auditorium to build a theater program.
“That first year of kids kind of set the tone for what was coming. Every year, it just got better,” Polito said. “By the time we started putting the posters on the wall and hanging the t-shirts and showing history, the kids come over and realized there is 12 years of history here. They’re standing on the shoulders of giants, and they want that.”
In the dressing rooms of the auditorium, head shots of past students are hung on the walls.
“They come in as freshman, and all they think about is how can I get my face on that wall? We keep setting the bar higher, and they keep wanting to hit it,” Polito said.
The eight week process of preparing for the Sound of Music production brought new challenges for the students.
“When we’ve done musicals in the past, they haven’t been the classical, old time ones. It’s a lot of pressure because a lot of people know it so well. But they know the movie version. We aren’t doing the movie version, we are doing the stage version,” Duhé said.
However, the show still managed to draw in a decent crowd for the entire week.
“We had great crowds. We didn’t have an absolute sell out, but we were close,” Polito said. “One of the biggest compliments we get, which is always the one that makes me so happy is ‘It didn’t look like we were seeing a high school play.’ When they say that, that’s when I know we are doing something right.”