With a lull between fall and winter sports, November is the time for high school theater productions in Marion County.
Goessel, Marion, and Peabody-Burns high schools start the theater season with a bang this weekend, and Centre and Hillsboro high schools will present stage productions later in the month.
Centre High School
Centre High School will present “Alibis,” 7 p.m. Nov. 23 at the high school. The play is a two-act mystery spoof written by Peter Kennedy.
“It’s fun to be in a murder mystery, because those are the most fun plays,” cast member Katie Remy said. “Some of the lines we say are kind of corny.
All of the cast members are involved in other activities, which can make practicing a challenge.
“Scheduling is the hardest part, because it’s hard to get everybody here,” Remy said.
Tabatha Rose is the sole member of the stage crew, so she has a lot of duties with the play.
“I have to open the curtains, turn on the lights,” she said. “I have to do all the sounds. I like getting to do some of the technical stuff.”
She also is responsible for moving props on and off stage between scenes.
“It helps a lot having someone to do the operation of those things,” said Jennifer Montgomery, who is co-director along with Lynley Remy.
Cast members have demonstrated a lot of commitment since practice started in early October, she added.
“I think their enthusiasm is amazing, and their dedication is commendable because they’ve got so much else they’re doing,” Montgomery said.
The admission fee has not been set.
Goessel High School
Goessel High School will present “Peter Pan,” 7 p.m. Friday and 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the high school auditorium.
The production combines ideas from a variety of film and stage adaptations based on the character created by J.M. Barrie, director Derrick Birdsell said.
Braden Unruh will play the titular boy who refuses to grow up.
Jo Hoffman will play 12-year-old Wendy. She likes the imaginative story
“I really enjoy how we get to play little kids,” she said. “It’s fun for all ages.”
Although the play is fun, it is challenging, Hoffman said.
“The hardest part is keeping enthusiasm after a couple hours of practice when we’re working every night,” she said.
Neal Brubaker plays Peter Pan’s iconic nemesis, Captain James Hook. Because there are so many adaptations of Peter Pan’s story, he has many references for his portrayal of Hook.
“It’s interesting because it’s a character everybody knows, and everybody has their own interpretation,” Brubaker said.
Hook’s most distinctive feature — an iron claw where his left hand would be — sets the captain apart from most stage characters. The hook is more of an opportunity than a challenge while acting, he said.
“The hook actually makes it easier, because the character has more personality,” Brubaker said.
Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at the high school office. A lasagna dinner will be held in the school cafeteria 1 hour, 30 minutes before the play begins each night. Admittance is by donation.
Hillsboro High School
Hillsboro High School will present the musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, 19, and 20 in the high school auditorium.
The musical is based on the 1991 Disney movie of the same name. The popularity of the movie is both an advantage and a disadvantage, senior Jordan Riggs said. He plays Lumiere, the enchanted candelabra.
“It was a lot easier to remember the lines because I was familiar with the movie,” although there are some different scenes, Riggs said. “It’s a little frightening, because everone has expectations about Lumiere, but he is my favorite character.
Senior Hayley Pankratz plays Belle, the “Beauty” in the title.
“Belle has always been my favorite Disney princess,” she said. “It’s kind of ironic.”
Pankratz has been involved in school musicals throughout high school. She looks forward to having such a front-and-center role as a senior, despite the pressure that accompanies it.
“I think it’s more of an opportunity for me, because I love this,” Pankratz said. “Practice isn’t boring for me.”
As of Thursday, she hadn’t seen her costumes, because they had to be special-ordered, but she said she was looking forward to seeing them.
The number of featured parts was a draw in making the decision to produce “Beauty and the Beast,” director Lynn Just said.
“I felt that we could cast ‘B&B’ several different ways, which is my first criteria for choosing a show,” Just said. “We have many experienced performers right now, and this show has enough parts to showcase several students.”
Rehearsals for the 43 cast and crew members began Sept. 7.
Tickets cost $5 and are available at the high school office. Seating is reserved.
Marion High School
Marion High School will present “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at USD 408 Performing Arts Center.
The musical follows seven brothers in 1850s Oregon in their quest to find wives. Katie Rahe is directing with assistance from David Clark, Lee Leiker, and Brenda Odgers because Janet Killough, who usually directs, is recovering from surgery.
The musical has a large cast of characters, rather than a small cast plus a chorus, senior Landon Leiker said. He plays Adam Pontipee, oldest of the seven brothers.
“I really like it,” he said. “It’s pretty fun music. It’s not like a really funny play, but it does have some humor.”
Senior Sarah Guetersloh plays the part of Milly.
“The setting is a lot different than the past ones,” she said, comparing the musical to earlier productions. “It’s an interesting storyline.”
Guetersloh said the different setting was a welcome challenge.
Southwestern College student Kristina Sims is choreographing the dances; she also choreographed the 2009 production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“Very classical musical theater would be the best way to describe it,” Sims said of the musical’s choreography.
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” features several dances that include the full cast, she said. Dances also include a lot of lifts, she added.
“I think it hits a really broad audience,” Sims said.
Time constraints are the biggest challenge in choreography, she said. Opportunities to rehearse dances with the whole cast have been limited, but students are making the most of those rehearsals.
“They’re working hard,” Sims said. “They know they have to be focused to get the show done.”
Tickets are available at The County Seat, 130 E. Main St., Marion, and cost $3 for adults and $2 for children 12 and younger. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Peabody-Burns High School
Peabody-Burns High School will present the musical melodrama, “Tied to the Tracks,” 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Brown Building Auditorium.
The musical is set in the 1880s in the Dakota Territory. As a melodrama, audience participation will be encouraged — such as cheering the heroes and booing the villains.
“I like it,” Seth Topham said. “If they aren’t involved, I think, ‘Am I doing something wrong?’”
Topham plays Sheriff Billy Bold. He enjoys the over-the-top nature of the musical.
“You get to have a lot more fun with it,” he said.
Sarah Hofkamp, who plays Dakota Melody, said it has been fun to work on.
“It’s really goofy,” she said. “The lines are just corny, and I like that.”
The cast of 28 students includes several younger performers. Hofkamp said she has enjoyed seeing some of the younger cast members come out of their shells.
“It’s kind of cool to see the younger kids doing it,” she said.
Matthew Scott has been involved in musicals before, but this year has provided a new challenge for him — playing the mustache-twirling villain, Silias Scavenger.
“For one thing, I’ve never played a villain,” Scott said. “It’s different. I’ve always played a silly guy. What I like about it is I get to boss everybody around.”
Director Steven Glover chose the musical keeping in mind which students he thought were likely to participate.
“Just trying to find something that fit the students,” Glover said.
PBHS has had an extra challenge preparing for opening night. The temporary stage wasn’t assembled until Friday. Until the stage was ready, students rehearsed in the band room.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Advance tickets are available from cast members and at the PBHS office.