Poland's first student director is shining star

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White Christmas

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Poland HS is putting on the musical White Christmas. Poland senior Noah Landry sings a few bars of the title song.

In the 33 theater productions Candy Fonagy has directed at Poland Seminary High School, she’s worked with many talented students.

One of the stars of this season’s “White Christmas,” which runs at 7 tonight, Friday and Saturday, however, shines extra bright in her eyes.

Noah Landry, a senior at PSHS, became the first student director of a Poland Players show after Fonagy was out sick for two weeks at the beginning of November, a crucial rehearsal time.

“That’s when everything really starts coming together,” Fonagy said. “I arranged for an adult to be in the room with them, but Noah ran the rehearsals.”

Landry already had an active role in the production: He plays Phil Davis, one of four leading characters in the Irving Berlin musical. Plus, he did anything else that needed to be done.

“Once we started, he immediately took hold with helping run [rehearsals]. He has played every single song for us,” Fonagy said.

The musical aspects of the show came naturally to Landry, who’s been singing his entire life and has played piano and saxophone from a young age.

“It’s my first language. It comes before English,” he said of what

music means to him.

This marks his seventh performance as a Poland Player. He enjoys the experience because of the characters he gets to play.

“It’s a lot of fun to get to know the characters and perform them onstage, and build a relationship with them,” he said.

Directing was a bit more of a learning experience.

“It was definitely different,” Landry said. “I’ve never had that type of authority before. I felt very accomplished after hearing what the final product was.”

When Fonagy returned to direct, right away she noticed how Landry had honored her vision for the show, while adding his own creative touches. When she complimented everyone on the progress they’d made, one student asked if he could say something in front of the group, pulling Landry up to stand next to him.

“Without you, this show would not be what it is,” the student told Landry.

Fonagy is proud not only of Landry, but of the show as a whole. She decided this was the perfect chance to do “White Christmas” because this group of students has just the right combination of singing, acting and dancing skills.

The 1954 film, now a classic Christmas movie, starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Judy Haynes, who played singers who performed a Christmas show at a small country inn in Vermont.

The relationships between those characters, as in the original, are a highlight, Fonagy said.

“The chemistry is delightful, and it’s real. You get totally lost in the relationship that’s going on,” she said. “The acting matches the quality of the singing and the dancing and the piano playing.”

“These kids have shown such dedication to the show and to making it as good as they could,” she added.

At a rehearsal this week, Landry stood onstage and sang the musical’s eponymous song, each note sounding out beautifully in the hushed auditorium.

After he finished singing, Fonagy gave him a joyful hug.

“I’ve directed some pretty incredible talents. Without a doubt, I feel like this is the young man who really has the ability to take it to a high level,” she said. “This young man has the ability to do just about anything.”

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