An Ode to Mr. Nelson and His Theatrical Impact

Mr. Nelson with AHS cast and crew of Ladies Man, fall of 2019

As you walk into the auditorium, still chilled by the ever-impending cold of November, you begin to feel the anticipation advancing within you with every step closer to your seat. For each step is a new opportunity to partake in a wondrous adventure that only those present have the privilege to experience and enjoy. Upon waiting for the performance, you begin to frantically flip through the pages of the playbill or instead engage in small conversations about day to day activities, as your attention is now redirected by the dimming of the lights to the center of the stage. Mr. Nelson’s exuberant face greets and thanks you for attending a performance which he knows will be worth your time, and as you watch this performance unfold before your very eyes, you begin to appreciate just how much effort and dedication that was spent by the actresses, actors, and most of all, the director of such paramount performances. In light of Mr. Nelson’s retirement as an honors and AP English teacher, theatrical teacher and director of the performances at Amsterdam High School, we reflect upon his past career at AHS and the impact that he has on his students in the classroom and on stage.

After directing sixty-four performances at Amsterdam High School with an impressive overall total of eighty-six performances throughout his directing career, Mr. Nelson has never settled for anything less than his best when putting on a performance. Ever since his first play at AHS, You Can’t Take It With You, the audience has been flabbergasted with his work and supportive of his plays and musicals. Every scene has been critically analyzed and each minor detail has been pondered and perfected, in order to ensure a wonderful experience for the audience and highlight the talent of each individual present on the stage. The authenticity and elegance of his work with the Drama Club along with balancing the task of educating students has been an art that Mr. Nelson has acquired and developed throughout the years, inspiring students and enhancing their writing abilities, while portraying the moral of the story in each performance. 

For his last play, Mr. Nelson chose the Ladies Man, or rather, as he put it, the play was chosen for the Drama Club, in order for the actors and actresses to engage themselves and commit to such a demanding performance. According to Mr. Nelson, he has dealt with performances in the past, where performers were not wholeheartedly involved when acting. Therefore, in order to provide an impactful last performance for everyone to remember and for cast members to cherish reenacting, the Ladies Man was selected, to which he applauded them for their acting expertise in such a difficult farce. However, even though this year’s play was a sensation, Mr. Nelson’s favorite and most impactful play was the Tempest, due to his own personal flair on the character Ariel, which allowed both the audience and cast members to develop a greater appreciation for Mr. Nelson’s skills and abilities.

After asking the cast and crew about the effect that Mr. Nelson’s performances have had on them, each person agreed that Mr. Nelson has provided them with a deeper understanding of the theatrical arts and allowed them to understand and develop their characters to a greater degree. According to one of the cast members, Mr. Nelson explains the “deeper meaning in the shows we do and how that can affect me,” which “has helped me not just act as my character but be my character.” Additionally, Mr. Nelson taught cast members valuable teamwork skills which they will acknowledge their whole lives and audience members have been inspired to watch more theatrical performances, prompting them to possibly acquire acting as a hobby. This valuable knowledge and these skills will allow these individuals to succeed in life and one day continue to inspire others with their immense knowledge of the theater. 

Despite Mr. Nelson’s future retirement, the memories that he has left with us will last forever in our hearts and we will cherish everything that we have learned from him. We will truly miss him, although the Amsterdam Drama Club feels “proud for him” now “that he can retire peacefully after the hardest work every year with our productions.” Although this was Mr. Nelson’s last play, his spring musical, Newsies, will be his final swan song at Amsterdam High School, to which his successor will have to rise to the challenge in order to attempt to fill his shoes. Mr. Nelson wishes his successor “good luck,” while cast members hope that Mr. Nelson’s legacy of “joy and laughter” is continued at practice. Mr. Nelson also wanted his theatrical family to remember “we are always better when we work together.” Therefore, as Mr. Nelson thanks Amsterdam High School for the wonderful opportunity and is thankful that he had the chance to do what he loved for as long as he did, we must remember to always give our one hundred percent in everything that we do, just like Mr. Nelson.

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