In 1958 — prodded by a student named Christopher Lloyd* — Staples High School English teacher Craig Matheson directed “You Can’t Take it With You.”
Staples Players was born.
In the 61 years since, the drama troupe has earned national — even international — renown. (Their original production of “War and Pieces” was included in a United Nations traveling exhibit.)
But Players was not Staples’ first drama group.
For decades, individual classes put on plays. They were modest affairs.
In 1950 — the year after the juniors and sophomores joined together to put on “Our Town” — the 12th, 11th and 10th grade classes combined to produce “Blithe Spirit.” Led by legendary English instructor V. Louise Higgins, they called themselves the Masque and Wig Club.
The entire cast included 7 students.
Because Staples — then located on Riverside Avenue (the current Saugatuck Elementary School) — had no auditorium, the play was staged at Bedford Junior High (today, Kings Highway Elementary).
Little is known about that early effort, or any that followed. But alert “06880” reader — and Staples grad/Players fan/producer Fred Cantor — dug up some photos.
The simple, 4-page program for “Blithe Spirit” notes:
By the time the present Sophomores are Seniors, if the club continues, they will be a reasonably well-trained group.
Perhaps even by that time the school will have some sort of drama department, for before any more real progress can be made, a speech teacher and proper facilities are needed.
Tonight, the curtain rises for Staples Players’ elaborate production of “Mamma Mia!” Choreography, acting, the pit, lighting, sets — all will be near Broadway-quality.
Thanks in part to the Masque and Wig Club, our high school indeed has “some sort of drama department.”
* Yes, that Christopher Lloyd
(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)