During the slight pause between fall and winter sports seasons, Marion County high schools will feature their acting talents in the next couple of weeks, as each school takes to the stage for a play or musical.
Marion High School
Marion High School will present “Cinderella” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The musical is an adaptation of a fairytale that exists in some form in many cultures. Director Janet Killough said she chose the show because it is a simple but challenging show with lots of special effects. Killough said the cast, with 34 members, is strong vocally but has few seniors.
Isaac Baldwin and Spencer Fugitt play Cinderella’s self-centered stepsisters. When Killough decided to cast boys in the parts of the stepsisters, she was hoping to get a couple of big guys for the parts, she said, and she wasn’t disappointed.
“We’re enjoying it,” Baldwin said. “It’s definitely unusual, because we’ve never played any parts like this before.”
Fugitt said the role is a lot of fun without a lot of pressure, but it does have its downsides.
“I hate this wig,” he said.
Although acting in a musical is fun, Baldwin said it takes a lot of hard work.
“Especially with a musical, the dancing and singing have to be done really well, or the whole thing falls apart,” Baldwin said.
Killough and assistant director Katie Rahe have some assistance from MHS alumni on the project. Kristen Geis choreographed the dances, and Courtney Geis took the lead on set design.
This year MHS is incorporating plans to make the musical a fun event for families. After the shows, children will be able to have their picture taken in the miniature-horse-drawn carriage and with the prince, Killough said.
Centre High School
Centre High School will present “Fools” by Neil Simon on Nov. 22.
The play is a comedy set in the late 1800s in a Ukrainian village that has suffered from a 200-year curse of stupidity. The events of the play are set in motion when a schoolteacher arrives in the village to attempt to educate the people.
Director Jennifer Montgomery said she chose the play because she wanted to present a comedy by a well-known playwright. Neil Simon’s other plays include “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple,” which was the source material for a television sitcom of the same name.
Rehearsals began the first week of October, Montgomery said. One issue specific to “Fools” is whether the cast should speak with an accent.
“Our doctor (junior Tom Oborny playing Nikolai Zubritsky) has an amazing Russian accent,” Montgomery said.
But not all of the cast members have such a knack for it, and even Oborny said it’s hard to project his voice while using the accent.
“Fools” has a cast of 10 students. Montgomery said the cast has a good mix of experienced upperclassmen and talented underclassmen.
Sophomore Kevin Lewis plays the male lead, Leon Stephonovich Tolchinsky, the idealistic teacher who comes to the village. It is his first time acting in the play; he ran the lights in 2010. Lewis said acting is much more challenging than it looks, but he is really enjoying preparing for the play.
“We all just get to act goofy, get to act like we can’t in the real world,” he said.
Hillsboro High School
Hillsboro High School will present “Once Upon a Mattress” by Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Jay Thompson, and Dean Fuller on Nov. 17, 18, and 19.
The musical is a comedic adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, “The Princess and the Pea.” There are about 45 people in the cast, including senior Amy Bartel, who plays Princess Winifred in her first leading role.
“It’s been a lot of pressure, but I think it’s been fun,” Bartel said.
She said her character is fun to play, because she’s kind of crazy and always enthusiastic. Memorizing all the lines for such a big role has been a challenge, but she said rehearsals were progressing well.
Senior Luke Moore, in the role of Sir Harry, has been in every musical during his high school career, dating back to “Annie Get Your Gun” as a freshman in 2008. He said the cast is his favorite part of the show.
“I like the people in it,” Moore said. “They’re fun to work with.”
He said he has worked with a lot of the cast before, but he’s also happy to see quite a few freshmen in the musical, especially the boys. He said Nick Ediger is the only other senior boy in the cast.
“Once Upon a Mattress” was director Lynn Just’s first musical at HHS, back in 1993. She continues to enjoy watching the improvement students make, how they come together, and get excited to perform.
“Our lead has great facial expressions and is terrific in this comedic role,” Just said. “We have very strong women vocally. Many of our men are younger, but they are doing a nice job learning what to do on-stage.”
Goessel High School
Goessel High School will present “The Three Musketeers” by Charles Morey on Friday and Saturday. The play is an adaptation of the novel by Alexandre Dumas.
Director Derrick Birdsell said the choice of the play was driven by the large number of boys who signed up for the play, 19 of them in all, with a total of 25 students in the cast and crew. He also chose it because he wanted something that would be funny but challenging for the cast.
One of the special challenges of the show is that it has several sword-fighting scenes. Acquaintances in the Wichita theater community put Birdsell in touch with Danette Baker, who teaches stage combat at Wichita State University. Baker has spent hours working with the cast to perfect the fight scenes.
“The combat training and the anticipation of working with real swords on stage has been a big motivator for the whole cast,” Birdsell said.
Baker said the cast is improving the transition between fight scenes and the rest of the play, integrating the duels almost seamlessly.
“Their moves are getting more solid,” Baker said.
Saturday was the first rehearsal using actual swords exclusively, instead of the wooden dowels cast members used to practice their fight scenes at the start. The sounds of sword-fighting — ringing blows and the scrape of metal on metal — filled the GHS auditorium as the cast began by rehearsing a six-vs.-four fight combat.
Senior Braden Unruh plays d’Artagnan, a rural swordsman who travels to Paris to join the famed musketeers. He said the fight scenes are complex and challenging.
“It’s a lot of action,” Unruh said. “It keeps us on our toes, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Birdsell said the play is most difficult production the school has had in several years.
“The hard work the kids have put in is amazing,” he said.
Peabody-Burns High School
Peabody-Burns High School will present “Hello, Dolly!” by Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart on Saturday and Sunday.
The musical focuses on the events around Dolly, played by senior Sarah Hofkamp, who described the character as a matchmaker and meddler who loves to get involved in everybody’s business.
Director Steven Glover said he chose the show because he thought it would be a good fit for the students he expected would be involved. There are 35 students in the cast.
Glover said the main cast has done a good job rehearsing despite scheduling problems. The majority of the cast members are involved in multiple other activities, all with their own meetings and practices.
Scheduling difficulties were compounded by the fact that PBHS doesn’t have a permanent stage. The cast wasn’t able to rehearse onstage until Friday, but even with Glover occupied with other preparations, the cast stayed organized and demonstrated initiative in rehearsing on their own.
Hofkamp wasn’t familiar with “Hello, Dolly!” until work on the show began, but she said it has grown on her.
“I love ‘Hello, Dolly!’” she said. “I think it’s funny; I think it’s fantastic.”
She said she likes the spotlight of a lead role. It is a lot of pressure and responsibility, but it is also a lot of fun, Hofkamp said.
Junior Seth Topham plays Horace Vandergelder, who he described as bitter, mean, and misogynistic. He said memorizing lines requires a lot of time, but it is worth it because as cast members learn the lines better, they can focus more on their acting.
Topham said he was happy to see as many freshmen as are in the show step up to the challenges of being in a musical.
Show times and ticket information
- CHS presents “Fools,” 1:30 and 7 p.m. Nov. 22. Admission costs $2 for students, $3 for adults, and is free for preschool children.
- GHS presents “The Three Musketeers,” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission costs $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. A Mexican dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. before the show both nights. Admission to the dinner is by donation.
- HHS presents “Once Upon a Mattress,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 18, and 19. Admission costs $5. Tickets are available at the HHS office and by calling (620) 947-3991.
- MHS presents “Cinderella,” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission costs $3 for adults and $2 for children 12 or younger. Tickets are available at The County Seat Decorating Center in Marion and will be available at the door.
- PBHS presents “Hello, Dolly!” 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets can be purchased from cast members or at Peabody Township Library for $5 in advance or for $8 at the door.