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High School Production Of 'Alien' Grows Stronger With Help From Director Ridley Scott


The school play this year at North Bergen High School in New Jersey was so successful it's being revived tonight just a month after it first went up. This time it has a bigger budget thanks to the movie director Ridley Scott. Scott's production company gave the school $5,000 to put on an encore performance.


Now, you might have heard about the play's first go-round. It started when English teacher and director Perfecto Cuervo approached the school art director.

PERFECTO CUERVO: Sometime in August, I came up to him. And I said, listen, man. Can we do "Alien"?

CORNISH: "Alien," the 1979 science fiction movie set in outer space - that film cost millions to make.

SHAPIRO: OK, for many high schools where the school play means "Our Town" or "The Crucible," that choice would have been a leap but not for North Bergen High. Last year, they put on a stage version of the horror zombie flick "Night Of The Living Dead."

CORNISH: Their version of "Alien" got a great response locally and lots of love online.

CUERVO: I know there was one clip alone that had, like, 3.5 million views.


SHAPIRO: And spoiler alert - if you haven't seen the high school play or the 1979 movie, that is the final climactic scene where the hero, Ripley, expels the alien out of her spaceship. In tonight's performance, North Bergen senior Gabriella Delacruz plays the role of Ripley.


GABRIELLA DELACRUZ: (As Ripley) This is Ripley, the last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.

I definitely identify with Ripley a lot because she's very - she still feels with her heart. She still cares about her crew, but she still wants to do what's best for everyone.

CORNISH: The sci-fi thriller came out almost 40 years ago. Director Perfecto Cuervo was surprised by how much his students knew about "Alien."

SHAPIRO: Take Daniel Lanza, a senior and lead set designer for tonight's show. He's a huge fan of the film.

DANIEL LANZA: I imagined it would attract a lot of attention. However, I did not imagine it would attract this much attention.

CORNISH: Besides the $5,000 and a letter from director Ridley Scott, Sigourney Weaver, the original Ripley, made a video for the cast.


SIGOURNEY WEAVER: You know, the alien might still be around. So when you're opening your locker, just do it very slowly.

SHAPIRO: It all took director Perfecto Cuervo by surprise. He didn't even have a Twitter account when the story of the production started picking up steam.

CUERVO: It just kept escalating. I was like, oh, my God, when does it stop (laughter)?

CORNISH: North Bergen's encore production of "Alien" will have some bigger-budget touches, says Cuervo.

CUERVO: One key thing for me is, like, for these explosions - and when we hear the ship, I just - I want the whole auditorium to rumble. And now, like, you feel it and, like, wow.

SHAPIRO: If you are hoping to grab a ticket, sorry. Tonight's performance of "Alien" at North Bergen High School is sold out.

(SOUNDBITE OF JERRY GOLDSMITH'S "FACE HUGGER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.