Fall play is tribute to tricentennial

“Lizzy’s Scrapbook” is an original play centered on the rich history of Haddonfield and will be featured as this year’s fall play at Haddonfield Memorial High School as a tribute to the town’s tricentennial.

“Lizzy’s Scrapbook,” a play written by Haddonfield resident Sydney Lefler, follows three Haddonfield students on a paranormal adventure when they encounter the ghost of Elizabeth Haddon Estaugh on Halloween night and are subsequently led by her throughout the town, encountering the spirits of deceased figures in Haddonfield’s history.

“The thing that makes this different is it’s personal to our town,” play director Josh Bessinger said.

Bessinger will make his directing debut with “Lizzy’s Scrapbook” as his first Haddonfield Memorial High School play. However, no stranger to high school plays, Bessinger has worked for several high schools, including Cinnaminson High School and Bordentown Regional High School on everything from set design to choreography.

Helping to make the ghost and scrapbook of Elizabeth Haddon “come alive,” according to Bessinger, will be West Berlin-based technical company DFX Sound Vision.

Bessinger explained that just because the play deals with ghosts doesn’t mean the tone is somber. He instead said that “Lizzy’s Scrapbook” is a “mix of everything,” including serious parts, such as testaments from fallen soldiers and conductors on the Underground Railroad, comedic relief, including a bone fight between two dinosaurs, and even a love story involving Elizabeth “Lizzy” Haddon Estaugh.

“I think the challenge is making this not come off as your typical fifth-grade play,” Bessinger said.

With so much history compacted into one play, Bessinger explained that it was crucial to make the characters come off as “human.”

Junior Allison Sparrow shared those same sentiments. In addition to the memorization, Sparrow said it was also a challenge to find a way to keep her character’s dialogue from sounding too much like a lecture.

“The lines are difficult to memorize, because they’re historical facts instead of thoughts and feelings,” Sparrow said.

Originally from Illinois, Sparrow has pursued theater from a young age, following in the footsteps of her sisters. Doing community theater, she also made a small appearance in the movie “Fred Clause,” exchanging a few lines of dialogue with actor Vince Vaughn, prior to moving to Haddonfield.

Starring in her fourth fall play at Haddonfield Memorial High School, Sparrow has been the lead in several past performances, such as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet,” Dorothy in “The Wiz” and Anne Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Karl Fey, who plays a World War II soldier, was also able to bring his own historical background to the table, volunteering as a World War II reenactor with the 78th Infantry Division.

Quick to notify his director, Fey explained that when he first read his character’s description, he was described as carrying a rucksack, something that Fey said would have not really been seen until later in Korea.

Fey also added that he hopes he can use his knowledge of history when he joins the fall play next year as part of the crew.

“I really enjoy building and costume design,” Fey said.

Fey explained that his character is one of the more serious roles in the play. Taking the role of a perished soldier, Fey said his character died on Christmas day in 1944 during heavy fighting as America pushed forward during World War II.

“Lizzy’s Scrapbook” will run from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26, with a matinee from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 and night showings from 7:30 to 11 p.m. on Oct. 24, 25 and 26 in the high school auditorium. Tickets will be sold for $10 per person.