Bloomfield HS show brings students ‘One Step Closer’ together

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield High School will present its 10th annual spring theater project on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, with the curtain going up both evenings at 7 p.m. The production, “One Step Closer,” puts student theatrical talent in the spotlight with the script being a mix of music, dance, poetry and monologue selected or written by students and sorted into dramatic sequences by the director. 

The usual producer/director for BHS productions, theater arts teacher Brandon Doemling, will only be producing this show. Direction is being handled by his daughter, Schuylar, a 2012 BHS graduate and current BHS substitute teacher, who has assisted on numerous school shows. The choreographer is Julia Aiello, a 2015 BHS graduate who currently works as a paraprofessional and substitute teacher at Bloomfield Middle School. The two women are also best friends.

In an interview at the high school on Friday, May 6, Schuylar Doemling said “One Step Closer” is about life returning to normal following the pandemic. Last year’s spring project, reflecting the times, was “Six Feet Apart.”

“Even though we’re coming back together people still feel alienated,” she said. “An important part of student life is absent. It’s tough enough being a teenager in high school. A lot of ‘One Step Closer’ is, ‘What do we do now?’ It’s about the students trying to figure out what to do.”

With school shut down during the pandemic, she believes students had a lot of time for reflection on what was working and what was not.

“What’s not working is continuing to isolate,” she said. “Being able to connect is the antidote to isolation.”

Aiello said she begins to choreograph a dance by listening to the music over and over again.

“I try to make my body do what I imagine and the dancers make it look better,” she said.

There are 14 pop songs in “One Step Closer,” with about five requiring choreography. According to Aiello, the general tone of a song and the number of people in the scene affects how the music will be choreographed. 

The production will have monologues and poems with LGBTQ issues expressed. One song requiring choreography is “The Man,” by Taylor Swift. It is a song about gender, according to Aiello.

“It’s all movements that show frustration,” she said. “All the students are pounding and stomping and out of breath. They’re trying to break the glass ceiling, but that may not be enough.”

“If I Can Dream” will be performed. It is a traditional song sung by Elvis Presley, Aiello said, expressing the hope that one day there will not be discrimination, and for that hope to matter to everyone and not just the oppressed. “Change It,” from the movie “9 to 5,” will also be heard. This song says not to just sit back but attempt to create change yourself, according to Schuylar Doemling, who said she is directing older students for the first time. Because of the help she received from a team of women, she had the confidence to undertake the project, she said. 

Aiello said her challenge is always to have confidence in the work she creates and that her choreography supports the message of the show. 

“I know I’ve gotten it right when the students and the production team love it,” she said. 

“One Step Closer” has a cast of 23, five of whom are seniors. A three-piece student band will provide the music. The show is 80 minutes long and without intermission. It will be performed in the BHS auditorium, 160 Broad St. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at https://bhsthespiansociety.ticketleap.com/

The poems and songs were selected, and the monologues written, by Megan Moynahan, Alisa Urgent and Elena Spiteri, all seniors; Moynahan and Urgent are also in the cast. Michelle Lampert is the vocal director. The school has lifted, at present, its masking and distancing requirements.

Alumnae photo by Daniel Jackovino; cast photo courtesy of Julia Aiello

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