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A Finale Project

PV seniors have the option to do a final senior project that allows them to explore their interests

PV+seniors+Julia+Veloso+and+Brian+Sumereau+work+on+their+play+titled+Finale.+The+pair+each+contributed+to+creating+this+play+from+scratch+as+part+of+their+senior+projects.
PV seniors Julia Veloso and Brian Sumereau work on their play titled Finale. The pair each contributed to creating this play from scratch as part of their senior projects.

PV seniors Julia Veloso and Brian Sumereau work on their play titled Finale. The pair each contributed to creating this play from scratch as part of their senior projects.

Curstine Guevarra

Curstine Guevarra

PV seniors Julia Veloso and Brian Sumereau work on their play titled Finale. The pair each contributed to creating this play from scratch as part of their senior projects.

Sevan Gulleyan, Staff Writer

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It was a vision that Brian Sumereau could not get out of his head.

“It came to me in a dream,” Sumereau, a PV senior, said. “I was sitting in the auditorium facing the stage. The entire cast came on stage and then turned around and walked into a backdrop that looked like a burning sunset. That’s when I knew I needed to write this.”

Seniors Sumereau and Julia Veloso are set to premiere their musical “Finale” on May 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. The show itself is over 100 minutes long, including the 15 minute intermission.

Veloso and Sumereau began brainstorming this play during their sophomore year, discussing characters and plot.

We worked solely off of each other’s personal opinions, how we envisioned the scenes would play out, and the message we wanted to send,” Veloso said.

Since their sophomore year, they have been working on making this show a success. They finished the script earlier in the school year. “We [were] inspired to tell the story of these characters and convey a message,”  she said.

But it’s not so much about the end. It’s more about the struggles they have to go through.”

— Brian Sumereau

The musical itself traces the lives of eleven different New Yorkers, such as a college-bound teenager or an alcoholic woman going to retirement, each at a milestone in their lives and each struggling to determine what they want in life. When they discover that the world is ending in a week, they must decide what is really important to them.

“That’s why we called it ‘Finale’ because it’s kind of the end of their journey,” Sumereau said, “But it’s not so much about the end. It’s more about the struggles they have to go through.”

The show comes as a result of the senior project program at Pascack Valley.

Senior projects allow seniors to drop a course—typically an English course but a related course may also be dropped—and take up a project. The seniors must write a research paper as well. According to Valerie Mattessich, an English teacher at PV who has been Senior Project Advisor for the past 13 years, the project culminates in a 20 minutes long presentation in front of a panel of teachers. Past projects have included writing books, starting bands, and creating films.

Seniors are not technically allowed to work on the same senior project. Because both Veloso and Sumerau had distinct roles in the show, they were allowed to work on the show together. While Sumerau’s project involved polishing the script and writing the music for the show, Veloso’s project involved filming rehearsals and making a documentary about the musical.

“The show itself is neither one of our senior projects, but we’re both contributing to the show with our senior projects,” Sumereau said. “The production itself is evidence of both Julia and I actually having worked on our senior projects.”

Sumereau and Veloso have enlisted help from various PV students and teachers to make this play a reality.

“[Finding people] was probably the hardest part,” Brian said. “But I could not be happier the the cast. It’s incredible, the way everyone assimilated into their parts.”

According to Sumerau, their first “real” rehearsal was on April 10.  However, they have been meeting as part of a Pascack Period since January. Since April, they have rehearsed nearly every day after school.

“I auditioned with the few songs they had written and some things to read for,” sophomore and cast member Amelia Moran said. She was approached by Brian and Julia, who told her about the play, and will be playing the part of Amy, a retiring woman whose husband died and daughter was taken away years prior.

“It’s really important to support the arts and creative thought,” Moran said. “Brian and Julia have spent countless hours putting this together and I am very impressed with what they have done so far. It should definitely be an interesting show.”   

“Every time I think about it, I get excited. I love that I can call this my own,” Sumereau said.

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A Finale Project