Around the Green

Tammy Grella has worked at Forman School for 26 years and currently serves as a Theatre Teacher. Tammy also directs plays and other performances at Forman. Most recently, Tammy directed the School’s production of She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition. 

She Kills Monsters tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly,” writes Concord Theatrical. “When Agnes finds Tilly's Dungeons & Dragons notebook, however, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly's refuge.”

That scene, Tammy says, is her favorite. 

“It’s at that moment that the audience realizes that there is a much deeper meaning to the story, and they begin to see themselves in the story,” she says. “It’s all about teenagers and the monsters represent the different things that they battle every day.”

Tammy says that putting on a successful show, like She Kills Monsters, requires patience and time.

“It’s a balance of teaching the students that it has to be fun, but it also has to be taken seriously,” she says. “They put themselves out there on stage in front of all their peers and friends and family, and that is scary. It’s a brave thing to take that kind of a risk.”

When teaching and directing students, Tammy says she enjoys watching students take that risk and believe in themselves. 

“The best moment is the moment that they realize what they’ve accomplished. It seems like a daunting task for them at first, to think that they need to memorize a script and movements. Sometimes even songs and dances in two short months. Then add set changes and costume changes, and it can be overwhelming,” Tammy says. “But there is always that one rehearsal that things just click, and from that point on, you can just tell that it’s going to be great.” 

Tammy, though an athlete through college, gained an interest in theatre in high school. She says she finds many similarities between what it takes to excel at sports and in theatre.

“The cast must work together as a team in order to succeed, but also each person individually needs to put in the effort to know their own part,” she says. “Just like with athletic practices, you have to do it every day to improve. And the feeling after an opening night when you know all the hard work has paid off is very much like the big win on an athletic field.” 

Just as the cast works together to put on a successful show, Tammy adds that support from faculty and staff is crucial. 

“I am UNBELIEVABLY lucky to work with some other amazing faculty on the shows. Lily Chen and Kelly Munn are amazingly creative and dedicated!” she says. “And for many of our shows, we invite faculty to be involved onstage or with tech projects that come up. It shows our students that we are all supporting them, and it creates an even more special appreciation when our faculty get to see our students shine in something they are passionate about. The Maintenance Department has helped out more times than I can count, and we could never pull off some of our crazy ideas if it weren’t for them.”

When selecting material for Forman students to perform, the theater program sets out to challenge students and set the bar high. 

“Our students are beyond capable of achieving, and they appreciate being challenged,” Tammy says. “The theatre students have a respect for the program, and they want to succeed.” 

She adds, “So often our students come to us having been told they’re lazy or stupid or they can’t keep up. It’s all of the success that they achieve here at Forman outside of the classrooms in programs like theatre and athletics and culinary and boatbuilding that make them start to believe in themselves, and that success eventually bleeds over into the classroom.” 

Forman will be presenting the musical MAMMA MIA in February 2022. After the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the School from performing musicals, Tammy says this show will excite the whole community. 

MAMMA MIA is a show that so many students want to be involved with, even the non-theatre students,” Tammy says. “It will hopefully be an epically fun comeback for the musical!”