By Eryn Cohen
Whether you call her “Ms. G”, “Gren-Gren,” or even “Mom,” these names belong to the one and only Ms. Nicole Gerenyi. Due to the retirement of Mrs. Deborah Thompson, the Upper Dublin Theatre Department has come under the direction of Ms. Nicole Gerenyi as of the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. I conducted an interview with this lovely lady about her life before, and her current experience at Upper Dublin High.
Ms. Gerenyi grew up as the “odd one out” as a performer amidst a family of athletes. She adored the art of dance and shining on stage, rather than sprinting up and down fields or scoring baskets for the team. She started performing neither as a singer nor an actress, but as a dancer. At just five years old, Ms. Gerenyi first took the stage as a cuddly tap-dancing duck. During a more formal performance, she was a five-year old budding ballerina donning an elegant, shimmering ensemble. After years of dancing, her developed dancing abilities served as a gateway to the theatre world as she made her way to the stage in ninth grade as dancer.
Four years later, Ms. Gerenyi attended Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she aspired to professionalize herself in an occupation beyond theatre. Ms. Gerenyi majored in elementary school education, but after about one semester, she soon realized that the field wasn’t right for her. Ms. Gerenyi officially changed her major to theatre in the beginning of her sophomore year of college. Here’s the plot twist: one of her professors actually got Ms. Gerenyi hooked on directing (thank goodness for that professor).
For the past few years, Ms. Gerenyi has worked as a director and teacher at Spring-Ford, a teacher at Plymouth Whitemarsh, and a director at Conestoga. Before directing at Upper Dublin, Ms. Gerenyi deemed Thoroughly Modern Millie the most memorable show she has directed.
During Thoroughly Modern Millie, Conestoga High School’s 2014 theatre production, Ms. Gerenyi faced the catastrophe of the incessant snow days wreaking havoc on rehearsals. In addition, the full week of power outages led to a massive two and a half weeks of abandoned rehearsals. Resiliently, Ms. Gerenyi managed to get the show back on its feet without cutting a single scene or number. Her work paid off when opening night arrived, and Ms. Gerenyi witnessed high school students that she has worked with for four years improve in theatre and evolve as people.
Flash forward to Ms. Gerenyi’s arrival at Upper Dublin High School. For her first impression, the Upper Dublin students and faculty came off as extremely amiable and courteous (way to go UD!). They made it easier for Ms. Gerenyi to become acclimated to the new school.
“It was crazy to hear ‘thank you’ after every class,” Ms. Gerenyi commented as she regarded the students of Upper Dublin.
Teaching a Speech and Debate class was another adjustment Ms. Gerenyi had to make. Previously at her last school, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Ms. Gerenyi taught English and Communication, which included elements of Speech and Debate. Ms. Gerenyi enjoys teaching Speech and Debate because it is more specific than the very broad curriculum of English and Communication that she taught previously.
Dracula, Upper Dublin’s 2014 fall production, was the first show that Ms. Gerenyi directed at Upper Dublin High School. Although not entirely a fan of horror, she soon grew accustomed to the genre. Ms. Gerenyi utilized the intimate setting of the black box to set the tone of the show and instill fear in the members of the audience. She was overly satisfied with the encouraging cast and how open they were to new ideas—what more could a director ask for?
“It was really nice to have the cast so willing. It is a very welcoming thought,” Ms. Gerenyi commended.
Back in December of 2014, Ms. Gerenyi attended her first Pennsylvania Thespian Conference, continuing a treasured Upper Dublin High School tradition. The Pennsylvania Thespian Conference (A.K.A. PA Thesfest) is an annual three day conference that brings together high school theatre students statewide. At this conference, there are shows, workshops, college auditions, and the chance to make treasured new friends. The three days of the conference provided Ms. Gerenyi with an opportune time to get to know her students. She admits that she was fearful of the bus ride, and she theorized that she would have to endure the pain of the students singing show tunes the whole way there. On the contrary, it turned out to be a pretty relaxing bus ride where the students chatted among friends, enjoyed “How to Train Your Dragon” (both 1 and 2), and of course, slept.
When asked about what she thought the students should learn from the Thespian Trip, she responded, “It’s not about which school is better; it’s about supporting the arts.”
As the interview concluded, Ms. Gerenyi offered some final words of advice to current/incoming theatre students.
“Be positive and get involved. Not everyone is right for every show. If you give up early, you will never find your show. The most important thing is to stay involved in theatre, and to remember that not everything happens on stage.”
Currently, Ms. Gerenyi is busy preparing Upper Dublin’s spring production of Annie Get Your Gun.
“I’m really looking forward to doing my first musical here,” Ms. Gerenyi mentions.
FUN FACT: Ms. Gerenyi considers the panda to be her spirit animal because pandas are friendly until poked the wrong way. She also considers the flamingo to be her spirit animal because she really admires that flamingos are hot pink, and they stand while sleeping.