Cinderella (played by Madeline Boltinghouse), right, dances with the Prince (Nick Lanier) as Northern Nash High School actors rehearse in March for the school's production of 'Cinderella.'
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Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Cinderella (played by Madeline Boltinghouse), right, dances with the Prince (Nick Lanier) as Northern Nash High School actors rehearse in March for the school's production of 'Cinderella.'

Student troupes offer variety of spring plays

By Tyler Kes
Staff Writer

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For some high school actors, stepping onto the stage and seeing the audience can be one of the most rewarding and nerve-wracking feelings that can be experienced in their lives.

It usually is enjoyable for the people on the other side of the spotlight though, providing an inexpensive, entertaining night out.

Not all of the high schools in Edgecombe and Nash counties are producing a play this year, but the ones that are are doing a variety of shows, ranging from classics such as Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to more contemporary productions such as one-act plays the drama students at Southern Nash High School are staging.

The first production of the spring was by the students of Northern Nash High School, who performed “Cinderella” at the end of March.

“It went really, really well,” drama instructor Katherine Bortner said. “We had three sold-out shows.”

The play, which was staged at the Imperial Centre, was helped by the attendance of a lot of young girls.

“There was a lot of young people dressed as princesses at the Saturday matinee,” Bortner said.

The key to picking which play to perform, she said, is finding one that fits the students performing it.

That made things both easier and more difficult for Danelle Cauley, the director of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a joint effort by students at N.C. Wesleyan College and Faith Christian School, as well as some home-school students.

“It kind of feels like a family thing, where the older students can help the younger students,” Cauley said.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened Tuesday, and its final show will be at 7 p.m. today at the Dunn Center at Wesleyan.

Tickets are $5 for seniors and students and $10 for adults.

Understanding the strengths of her cast is what led Joanna Hale, the chorus and drama teacher at Nash Central High School, to pick “The Music Man” for her school’s spring production.

“Last year we did ‘Footloose,’” Hale said. “I wanted to do a classical musical this year. Looking at the kids we had, I knew we could pull this off.”

Although it can be frightening, Hale said she thinks high-schoolers enjoy doing theater because of the opportunity it provides them.

“I think it is an opportunity for young people to put their talent on the stage,” she said.

“The Music Man” opens at 7 p.m. May 15 at the Imperial Centre and will be followed by showings at 7 p.m. May 16 and at 2 p.m. May 17 and 18.

Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.

Of course not every school’s spring play is going to be a large production with lots of song and dance.

Dean Wheeler, the chorus and drama teacher at Southern Nash High School, allowed his students to have a say in choosing the school’s show, and they decided to do an evening of one-act plays.

You might think doing several smaller shows would be more difficult to direct, but Wheeler said it has been the opposite.

“It is actually going to be simpler to do a series of one-act plays because they can work in groups and there is less down time,” he said.

The plays will be staged at 7 p.m. May 22 at Southern Nash High School, and will be free.

“It is a fun evening of free entertainment,” Wheeler said.

At the end of May, Rocky Mount High School will perform “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to cap off the high school drama season.

“I looked at a lot of different plays,” drama teacher Stephen Engle said. “I showed one to my principal, but he thought it might be a little too highbrow for the students. I looked at this and thought ‘There is very little difference between a mental institution and a high school.’ I figured it is a great cast, it is a great play, it is one location and it is one we can have fun with.”

The show will be at 7 p.m. May 30 and 31 at the Rocky Mount High School Black Box Theater. Tickets are $5.

Rocky Mount Academy, Rocky Mount Preparatory School, Tarboro High School and Tar River Academy are not doing plays this year, school officials said.

SouthWest Edgecombe High School and North Edgecombe High School could not be reached for comment.