PHOTO CAPTION: Ms. Choquette looks on as the cast of The Music Man rehearses. The curtain goes up on the fall musical Nov. 15.
By Katie Budinger
MS. CHOQUETTE HAS DIRECTED COUNTLESS THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS, IN ADDITION TO TEACHING THEATRE CLASSES, AND CHERISHES THE MOMENTS WHEN STUDENTS TRANSFORM INTO ACTORS.
What would you be doing if you were not teaching?
You know, it’s funny. I did not start teaching right away out of college, so I did lots of different things. I was in banking for a short time; I was in home health care for a time; I worked in higher education; I sort of flip-flopped around right out of college because I wasn’t really sure. I guess inside I knew that I really wanted to be a teacher and that I was really supposed to be a teacher, but I kept thinking there had to be another way somehow. [Laughs.] As I was working in healthcare, I took a part time job teaching, and I decided later that year that I loved it, so that following year I found a job as a teacher…..
So what would I do? I loved all of those other professions, and I met some really great people in higher education, healthcare, and banking, so I’m not sure, but I know it would be something to do with people, and with young people potentially. And my post-retirement job is that I want to be the little old lady in all the TV commercials. That’s my post-retirement gig.
What is your biggest fear?
Where do I begin? My biggest personal fear is that I don’t like thrill rides at amusement parks, so roller coasters and things like that. I don’t know why anyone would do that to themselves. I have a lot of global fears, but I’m hoping that we can all come together as a nation to kind of solve all these together.
What would you say is the most interesting or unique activity you have ever done?
I’ve done some wacky things. Interesting and unique… I got married on TV, so that’s something. My wedding was on television, and I saw the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, so those are some things.
What’s your most interesting teaching story?
I don’t know where to start with that. I guess I have a lot of really positive things to share about my time so far as a teacher in that because of what I teach I have students who are kind of famous now. That’s been fun to see students on Broadway, on TV, in films, and at concerts. I think that because of what I teach, I’m in a unique position. Like, I knew them when they were high school kids and now they make ten times what I make in a year. [Laughs.] And you know I’m happy for them. I have the best job in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Part of the joy of that is watching all these kids go out and make their way and live their dream
Of all the shows you’ve directed at Andover High School, which few have been your favorites?
That’s a hard question because I feel like every show that you direct becomes kind of like a project, a child, and they all have special places in my heart for different reasons. I can tell you that the shows that people tell me are their favorite are some of the sort of bigger shows like RENT and Beauty and the Beast. People will come up to me even now, still, years after those shows were performed here and say to me, ‘Oh I remember when XYZ…’ So you can tell that some of those shows have really touched audiences in different ways, but as a director I can look back on any of the shows I’ve directed and I have very clear memories of what that time was like and what was going on at the time and who was in that show. When it was The Sound of Music we had the swine flu, and when we did Oklahoma! we had this disastrous dress rehearsal the night before where I just ended up sending everybody home because I had kids throwing up in the dressing rooms. When we did Les Mis there were so many great moments. That was a huge, big technical show. [Eponine] got her jacket caught on the fence, hopped over the fence, but had a note in the pocket of her jacket and she ended up just pretending she had a note in her hand and nobody ever knew; and [Enjolras] slashed his leg on the barricade, and all those things. I think about how actors are created and made on those moments on stage when things don’t go exactly how they’re supposed to and it’s like ‘How do you handle that?’ is when you become an actor. When you have to figure that out in front of a audience like, ‘Oh, that didn’t go the way it was supposed to. Now what do we do?’ And you as a director have no control. You’re out in the audience like, ‘Okay. You’ve got to figure that out because I have no idea how you’re going to figure it out’ and then they do and that’s the day you become an actor!