The Show Goes On

Theater Department Gains New Director, Events


As school resumes after summer break, the Edison High Theater Department blossoms with activity once again. In addition to continuing their traditional events, they also plan to introduce new events to this year’s calendar. Further additions for 2023 include the welcoming of Ms. Jessica Eckhoff as the new director, after Ms. Maureen O’Connor stepped down from the role. Eckhoff will be managing the department with the help of Ms. Gabriela Padilla. 

In addition to helping choreograph for EHS’s theater in the past, Eckhoff has a long history with the art form. Although she teaches science and forensics at EHS, she has been acting since middle school. Some of her favorite shows include The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. After four years of high school theater, Eckhoff went on to minor in the field at college, where she also helped with directing as the founding club president.  

Participating in theater from a young age, Eckhoff quickly identified her passion for acting and the self expressive power of the medium. “I really just liked helping people express themselves and helping give people an outlet to express themselves, that’s what I love about directing,” said Eckhoff. Overall, she hopes to provide opportunities for anyone to get involved in theater, from being a part of a show to participating in smaller non-auditioned events.

However, due to the suddenness of Eckhoff’s acceptance to the position, there will not be a fall play this year. Ms. Eckhoff expressed that there would not be enough time and she did not want to sacrifice quality by rushing the production. 

“I was really looking forward to it, and I’m sad that we won’t have one this year, but I’m still excited for the spring musical,” said Alejandro Resto ‘25, a two-year member of theater. Other students have echoed sadness about the cancellation but were excited for other theater productions such as the spring musical, the Trail of Terror, and the Dinner Theater. 

I really just liked helping people express themselves and helping give people an outlet to express themselves, that’s what I love about directing.”

— Ms. Jessica Eckhoff

Without the fall play, the actors have had extra time to prepare for the Trail of Terror, a yearly tradition hosted by the town where students guide participants through the woods. Among the trees, other EHS students from the theater department attempt to spook the amusement seekers. The event took place on Saturday, October 15th at the Edison Light Tower. 

Despite the changes, Eckhoff, Padilla, and the students are unified in their eagerness to participate in events and expand the department. “I’m so excited to help get people involved with crew,” said Leah Steinlauf ‘24, who hopes to someday play JD from Heathers: The Musical

Elyse Penedos ‘23, a four-year member and current president of the department, also expressed her excitement for the year, saying, “I’m excited to finally be able to participate in the musical after covid years and some academic struggles, but I’m most excited to have the honor of being president of the department this year.”