Without having a proper drama department, North Bergen High School managed to pull off a rendition of Alien that went viral as soon as the greater public caught glimpses of the set and costume design. The production had a two-day run with $5 tickets available at the door — the set is already coming down, though people all across social media are calling for an encore or even for it to be brought to Broadway. (It is right across the Hudson River from Manhattan, after all.) For now though, it will see a revival with more performances before the school year wraps up, having received funding from the mayor of North Bergen.
Video of ALIEN – The High School Play Production https://t.co/SUwPv1waeP
— Paul Scheer (@paulscheer) March 23, 2019
The play was adapted by English teacher Perfecto Cuervo. “My inspiration was just that I’m a huge fan of the movie,” Cuervo told Entertainment Weekly. He reportedly spent two months of his free time working on the play, which was brought to life by the school art teacher Steven Defendini who helped design the costumes and set, and music teacher Brian Bonacci who orchestrated the score as well as stage lighting. The school had literally no budget for the play, so the team had to rely on material donations from a local business and individual fundraising; in total, the production was estimated to be worth about $3,500.
The cast was made up of 8 students: Ibrahim Jaludi, David De Diego, Pedro Sarmiento, Britney Gonzalez, Jason Lopez, Dakota Rios, Gabriella Delacruz, and Xavier Perez as the xenomorph. “I saw a lot of screaming and a lot of people eyeballing me, trying to look at the whole costume,” Perez told a local news station. Audience members were cheering for and against him as he prowled the stage. A dozen or so other students helped out on the crew.
A student crew member explained to NJ.com, “This is going to sound really funny but (the set crew used) garbage essentially. Just anything that was lying around like cardboard and metal.” Basically everything in Alien: The Play was made from recycled and repurposed materials, aside from the xenomorph costume. “We shaved down the foam and bought a plastic skeleton head at Target on clearance and painted it black,” Defendini told EW, explaining how he enhanced the purchased costume to really bring it to life. “It was a puzzle: how do you make theater-quality work on the budget of a high school drama department? A lot of improvising and thinking outside the box. In some cases, that includes an egg carton box, some of which were repurposed for the computer lab set.”
Former NBHS students were not surprised, conversing on reddit over the weekend about how motivated the students and teachers of their school are despite purportedly being one of the least funded schools in the state. User Jahidinginvt, a self-proclaimed former choir geek, wrote, “We really are a passionate group of kids. It’s what happens when you don’t have any money; creativity, ingenuity, and determination can flourish!”