Theatre brilliant in “Silent Sky”


Natalie Whiteman

Margaret Leavitt observing as Peter Shaw reads to Henrietta Leavitt from a poetry book that her father gifted to her about stars.

Written in 2015 by Lauren Gunderson, “Silent Sky” follows the true story of the 19th-century astronomer, Henrietta Leavitt (junior Sophia Hickman Chow) as she attempts to balance her passion for science, family obligations, and the possibility of love, all while trying to find a woman’s place in society.

The Woodlands High School Theater Department put on a BlackBox show called “Silent Sky” that ran through Oct. 13-15.

When I was walking to the BlackBox entrance, the hallway was filled beautifully with decorations and greetings from the Theater Department.

This production was remarkable. Opening in the late evening of Wisconsin, the set was elaborate in keeping with the times of the 1900’s. It was very nicely furnished and decorated with beautifully made desks, cabinetry, and very detailed props, such as the photographic plates. It made me feel a part of the set.

There was only one set throughout the show but many different settings. In scene one, we go from being in the Harvard Laboratory analyzing the stars to Henrietta taking a few steps and in the classroom watching Peter’s lecture. The acting was so great that I was able to immediately catch on to the change in settings.

Gunderson’s writing is witty and fast, yet the impressive cast did not falter in their roles. In particular, Peter Shaw, played by Wiley Sadlier (junior), seemed well at ease in the role as an ‘awkward and bumbling’ apprentice. Sadlier always kept the audience laughing since he first appeared in scene two, bringing such a character to the stage.

The rhythm the actors had with each other contributed to the overall flow and enjoyment towards the play, especially in the scenes where they were reading the letters aloud, creating a dramatic effect of longing, which I really liked.

The costume design done by sophomore Alexa Reverte was perfect. There were so many small details in the skirts and especially the pink skirt Shea Mcleod was wearing and the pants Olivia Gerber wore playing character Annie Cannon. At first I thought the pants were a skirt because they were very flowy, but It was a pleasant shock to find out that she wore pants in support of the suffragette movement.

The musical aspect of the show was astonishing. Maragret Leavitt, played by Mcleod, did a captivating job singing as well as playing the piano, which brought such an emotional aspect to the play.

The lighting designed by Kyle Kratt and Kaelyn Toukatly was elaborate in demonstrating stars, especially in scene six where Margaret’s music appears in time with the blinking of the stars creating a tonal pattern. The stars are a big part of the storyline and it was amazing they were able to create the different sizes and brightness using lights.

This production was most enjoyable to watch. It was beautifully presented in a fantastic setting with a well acted and delivered cast. It did not fail to entertain.