After a six-hour red eye flight on April 9 from San Francisco to New York City, 50 students of the Oakdale High School Drama club and chaperones, under the direction of OHS drama teacher Bryan Mills, explored the Big Apple for five days during their spring break.
Every other year, Mills takes his students to New York City.
“The educational value of such a trip for the theatrical value alone is worth all the hard work it took to raise the $1,500 it took to go,” he said. “The OHS drama students would like to thank everyone of Oakdale for the financial support this year.”
The students visited many of New York’s famous landmarks. The first day there included a stroll through Central Park and visiting Strawberry Fields, the memorial to John Lennon, a walk through the Time Warner Center, and a visit to Times Square. The group had dinner at the famous Legend’s Irish Pub. That evening the students chose to go to see the musicals Mary Poppins or Chicago on Broadway.
The group stayed at the Sheraton New York — just five blocks away from Times Square in the heart of Manhattan.
The second day in the city, the students took a tour of Radio City Music Hall.
“The excitement of actually standing on the stage of the hall with 6,000 seats in front of them was overwhelming,” Mills said.
The tour of the hall ended with getting to talk to and take pictures with a Rockette. The students then visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and afterward, they took a two-hour Improv Skills Workshop with a professional Broadway actor. That afternoon, they walked down 5th Avenue and were also able to visit attractions such as the NBA store, Trump Towers, Tiffany’s, Sak’s and more. The evening ended with another trip to the Broadway theaters to view the musicals Wicked and Lion King.
The next day, the students were on the subways and ferries of New York City to travel to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the immigration center for new arrivals to America. After returning, they strolled Wall Street, visited Ground Zero and the oldest church in New York City, Trinity Church.
Later that evening, the students dressed up to see the musicals Phantom of the Opera and Memphis, a new musical on Broadway.
“One the biggest highlights of the Phantom of the Opera was seeing Jeremy Stolle, a professional actor born and raised in Modesto, performing his role of Don Juan in the Phantom of the Opera at the Shubert Theater,” Mills said.
Mills reported that he was in a production of Fiddler On The Roof many years ago with Stolle via the Modesto Performing Arts. Stolle was 17 years old at that time. He is now a paid professional.
“The drama students were able to have a talk backstage with several of the cast members after the show, which included the actress who played Christine and the actor who played the Phantom,” Mills said. “They were able to asked them questions about their careers and received first-hand insight of what it takes to become a professional performer.”
The following day included having a Musical Theater Workshop with a Broadway actress. The day also consisted of walking about 15 miles through Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown, and Little Italy of New York. They topped off the evening with dinner at Puglia’s Italian Restaurant with singing, and another subway ride to the “Top of the Rock” for a spectacular view of NYC at night.
The last day included a tour of Harlem, a few hours at the Metropolitan Art Museum in Central Park, and a tour of the aircraft “The Intrepid” and, a flight back to Sacramento and at last, a bus ride back to OHS for a trip home for a much needed rest.
Bryan Mills contributed to this article.