Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on the set of the movie Desk Set.

HHS Drama Club to Stage Production of The Desk Set

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on the set of the movie Desk Set.

August 20, 2018

The Huntington High School drama club will stage a production of William Marchant’s romantic comedy classic The Desk Set this fall. Auditions will be held shortly after classes begin in early September with rehearsals to follow. The curtain will go up for three separate performances on November 2-3.

Auditions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, September 12-13 at 2:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Actors are asked to prepare a one minute comic monologue. The first rehearsal is set for Monday, September 17 at 2:30 p.m. in Room 244.

The Desk Set is a comedy about ‘the desk set;’ a group of women in the reference department of a television network,” longtime Huntington drama club advisor Michael Schwendemann said. “The story centers on the role of Bunny Watson, a woman of encyclopedic knowledge, with facts and figures at her fingertips. All is serene and prosperous among the desk set until a methods engineer (efficiency expert) began installing EMERACs (Electromagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculator) around the office. These electronic brains can do the work of many persons and begin replacing whole departments in the company. But no mechanical brain could ever match Bunny Watson and no efficiency expert could ever best her in a game of wits. In the midst of all the mayhem there is a typical office party at Christmas time, when all the girls get to kiss the boss and when some employees think it’s time they told him what they really think of him. And running throughout is romance, and just a little heartache.”

Marchant’s play was later made into a 1957 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. The two lead actors both have strong personalities and match wits throughout the play.

Shows are scheduled for Friday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday November 3 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

Michael Schwendemann

Huntington drama club advisor Michael Schwendemann.
Huntington drama club advisor Michael Schwendemann.

A graduate of John Adams High School in Ozone Park, Queens, Mr. Schwendemann, or “Schwendy” as most students know him, earned a BA at CUNY-Queens College in communication arts and sciences and drama, theatre and dance. He obtained a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama.

Mr. Schwendemann worked as an adjunct faculty member at Long Island University-C.W. Post College in the department of theatre, dance and film from 1996 to 2001. He was in Huntington during parts of 2001-2003 performing outreach for the National Shakespeare Company, but he never envisioned himself as a Huntington teacher.

“It was luck that landed me at Huntington High School,” Mr. Schwendemann said. “I was actually offered a job at Bay Shore High School, where I was student teaching, but the teacher I was to replace changed his mind about leaving. Nina Wolfe, the chair of the English department felt terrible and secured me an interview at Huntington. The rest, as they say, is history!”

Mr. Schwendemann began working full-time at Huntington High School in January 2003 and quickly became a student favorite. He has taught freshmen English along with the elective classes Holocaust in Literature, Bible as Literature, Multicultural Literature, Public Speaking and Theatre Arts.

“I can’t imagine teaching any place else,” Mr. Schwendemann said. “From day one I was accepted into the high school community. I love my colleagues and most of all the kids. Some days they make it hard to love them, but that passes quickly. The support I have received from all parts of the administration is unparalleled.”

Mr. Schwendemann has graced the stages of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where he worked with Michael Emerson and Norbert Leo Butz, the Roundabout Theatre Company, The Folger Shakespeare Library Theatre with Allison Fraser, The Fringe Festival, Genesis Repertory Theatre and The New York City Opera. He is currently a member of the Airmid Theatre Company with whom he recently performed two shows of Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” starring Margaret Colin at the newly renovated Suffolk Theatre in Riverhead.

As the faculty advisor to Huntington’s Class of 2006 and Class of 2010, Mr. Schwendemann maintains fond memories of those particular groups of graduates.

The drama club continues to energize the veteran educator. “The club has given me more happy memories than I can count,” Mr. Schwendemann said. 

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