Hope from Hilltop

Everyone in the fRAMily has lost something this semester, whether it be valuable in-person time with colleagues and professors, big sports games, or simply time with friends. 

Three leaders from The Hilltop Players gave their perspectives on how the organization and fellow members are handling the situation.

Hilltop had several shows planned for the rest of the semester, including the musical “9 to 5,” the straight play “The Love Star” by FSU and Hilltop’s own Alex Surro, several Suit Jacket Posse improv shows, and their new dance group, Fl!ck’s, showcase, as well as several fundraising and social events.

Hilltop’s president, senior Monique Plante said, “The closing of FSU was heartbreaking for our members. Closing the school meant cancelling all of our events and shows that our members had been rehearsing for for months.”

On a personal note, Plante said, “I am very sad that the semester has been cancelled. Although I understand it had to be done for the safety of everyone, it was my last semester at FSU and I am very sad that I won’t get to perform my last show with Hilltop. I have loved being president of this organization and I miss everyone and everything a lot.”

Plante said she has been with Hilltop since her freshman year, completing six shows with them –  “9 to 5” would have been her seventh. Plante has also worked in costuming and choreography with Hilltop for several shows she both has and hasn’t had a role in.

However, the pandemic has not stopped this group from moving forward.

“Our Executive Board has been working tirelessly with me to plan a calendar of events for the rest of the semester,” said Plante. “We were all so sad that we couldn’t continue with the shows and I was sad that my time as president of this amazing organization was being cut short. So we decided there has to be some way to stay connected during all of this. We got together on a video call and started planning. Starting this week, we began Virtual Hilltop.”

If you go to their Instagram page @fsu_hilltopplayers, you will find they have themed posts and interactive contests planned for each day of the week all the way through finals.

Officer elections for the 2020-21 academic year had already been held for Hilltop, but they still needed to fill three chair positions. Elections were held via Ramlink.

“Fortunately, we had already had members shadowing for positions throughout the semester when we were at school,” said Plante.

As for the financial side of running a club, Plante said, “We are working with SILD and SGA to see what will happen with the remainder of our budget.”

Danielle Umanita, a graduating senior, also shared her grievances.

“The cancellation of the spring semester shows is really tough to still wrap my mind around,” she said. “Hilltop works very hard for months to put on some truly amazing shows and to have no end result to show off is very disheartening. As a senior, it’s also been really tough. I was so excited to be doing ‘9 to 5’ as my last show with Hilltop.”

However, she also shared her gratitude.

“I’m very grateful for my time at FSU and all the University has done for me,” she said. “I’m so glad I made my decision four years ago to attend school here. Without FSU, I wouldn’t have made the lifelong friends I have now.”

Surro, a junior, writer and director of “The Love Star,” also shared his experience.

“The biggest thought I have to keep reminding myself of is that it’s OK,” said Surro. “I cannot even try to put my feelings into words about how shocked and sad I was and still am when I heard the news of my own play being canceled.”

As much as Surro has lost this semester, he remains ever the optimist.

“This process started a little more than a year ago when I had this crazy idea pop into my head about writing an original play, proposing it to be performed with the Hilltop Players and maybe, just maybe getting this incredible opportunity to direct it. So, at the end of the day, all I have to do is remain grateful.”

You can check out more on “The Love Star” Instagram page, @fsuthelovestar, where Surro and other members have been posting behind-the-scenes specials, as well as visiting the play’s official website, thelovestar.mozello.com, where the full script is available!

Despite the hardships these students have faced, they still look back on their experience with great fondness.

“I’m so grateful for everyone in the organization and how much Hilltop has done for me,” said Umanita. “Acting is a huge part of my life, and I wouldn’t have that without Hilltop.”

Surro said, “We do a lot, from musicals to plays to improv shows, but this last month has proven to me that we are more than just actors and crew members.

“We are a family, strongly pushing through the uncertainty, and as devastated as we are and will be going forward, we are still trying to remain connected and enthusiastic. … Every person in the organization deserves the applause that they will unfortunately never receive this semester, but I believe with all of my heart that we will bounce back and continue to do amazing things in the future.”

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