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Wahconah's Apollonian Players are staging a production of 'Into the Woods' this coming weekend.
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The players caution that Act 2 contains material that may not be suitable for young children. The more family-friendly Act 1 runs about 90 minutes.
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Wahconah Apollonian Players Perform 'Into the Woods' this Weekend

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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There some 50 students who make up the cast and technical team, including 16 from Nessacus Middle School. 
DALTON, Mass. — Wahconah High School Apollonian Players will be performing the musical "Into the Woods" this weekend. 
The show will run on Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 6, at 1 and 7 p.m. in the school's auditorium. Tickets can be purchased in advance here or at the door for $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. 
The first act is 90 minutes and open to all ages but Act 2 contains adult content, such as adultery, death, murder, and other bad choices that may not be suitable for children age 10 and under.
The students have put in countless hours of rehearsal time, clocking in around 150 hours of rehearsal time since kicking off in January. 
"[The students] have definitely stepped up. It was a very aggressive rehearsal schedule. It's been very intense," Shawn Therrien, one of the directors, said. 
"We have some new people who have never been on stage before in significant roles, and to watch them grow every day … it's been great. They are ready. We could have show night tonight and we would be good."
The show is being directed by Therrien, Michael Hoffman and Rebecca Hoffmann and choreographed by Kaitlyn Houghtaling. 
The cast and technical team is made up of 50 students, including about 16 students from Nessacus Regional Middle School, two of whom have speaking roles. 
This has been a challenging show for students to undertake but they have done an amazing job, Therrien said. 
"I think this is the most technical show we've done. The number of lighting cues, sound cues, sound effects, scene changes, like all the other ends of theater. It's crazy there are like, what, 110 tracks," Therrien said, adding that the  Apollonian Players currently has a very strong group, particularly of seniors, who are also interested in entering the profession. 
The players will be saying goodbye to 11 of its students because they are graduating or transferring to a new school so this year the directors wanted give them a challenge. 
"We selected 'Into The Woods' on purpose because we have such a strong group, particularly of our seniors, and we have quite a few who are interested in doing this as a profession and we needed to challenge them this year," Therrien said.
 "It's a beautiful musical and people are gonna need Kleenex the couple of the songs at the end are very powerful and emotional. They're knocking it out of the park every day."
The show has many tough moments and there are moments where it would get frustrating but you have to learn to breathe through it and continue on, said senior Bee Gillespie, who is playing the Witch, and this is a type of skill that will last forever and can be taken everywhere. 
Although it has been the most difficult musical she has ever done, the witch has been Gillespie's dream role for about five years after seeing it performed Barrington Stage Company. 
"I saw it for the first time and I was absolutely blown away. I was in like seventh grade, but I was blown away and as much as the music's been so hard, the timing has been really hard and I am on stage a lot, costumes a lot. It's been worth it," Gillespie said. 
The Baker's Wife in the play, Sara-Louise Oakes, also a senior, echoed the remarks added that despite how difficult something can be and the obstacles that may occur, she is now confident that she can keep calm and keep going with what needs to be done.
"I've also like just learned to be even more appreciative of every single person involved," she said.
Every person involved in the production is important, Oakes continued, because if even just two people are absent a whole set change can go crazy wrong. 
The school's theater program has provided the students with a range of skills such as leadership, public speaking, confidence, and more. During their time with the Apollonian Players students have developed a close bond with one another, Oakes and Gillespie said.
"I've always personally liked the theater atmosphere better than the school atmosphere. I think it's really inclusive," Oakes said. 
"And I've known people that have done sports, or done music their whole life, or never done anything [but they] they  just come in and everyone is friends and gets along." 
Gillespie agreed adding that in some of the other clubs the school has you done make the close friendships and bonds that you do in the theater program. 
"My philosophy of theater is that in the end, the play doesn't matter. It's great to have an amazing performance but to have an inclusive environment where everybody feels welcome and apart, and that they each get to contribute something. That's No. 1 priority," Therrien said. 

Tags: high school musical,   Wahconah,   

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Pittsfield ConCom OKs Zebra Mussel Treatment

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission has OKed a zebra mussel pesticide treatment in Onota Lake if the invasive species are confirmed.

On Thursday, the panel approved a notice of intent application for the use of EarthTec QZ within a specified treatment area of the lake.  

"We're not entirely 100 percent sure that there is an infestation of zebra mussels at Onota Lake. Last September, a water sample was taken and the DNA of zebra mussel was detected in that water sample. This was a water sample taken near the boat ramp at Burbank Park. Subsequent water samples were taken later in the fall and very early this spring, there were still non-detects in those water samples for DNA showing the presence of zebra mussels," Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

"We continue to, most recently as this Tuesday, we are sampling for zebra mussel EDNA and we should know the results of those samples certainly by early next week."

McGrath addressed the commission with a sense of urgency, as the lake is currently around 52 degrees Fahrenheit and the zebra mussels begin to activate around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  He described it as "an opportunity to take what could be a potential massively serious ecological issue at Onota Lake and nip it in the bud."

"What we're proposing here is a collaborative approach where there are many stakeholders involved," he said. "This is not Jim McGrath proposing the use of EarthTec QZ at the lake. This is something we have been very deliberative about."

The application was continued from the previous meeting so that it could be filed as a state Ecological Restoration Limited Project.

"Really what it means is that it's eligible, which I think this project meets the eligibility requirements, it affords the right to not have to comply with general performance standards for the resource area that's being impacted," Conservation Agent Robert Van Der Kar said.

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