Chained to this desk as I often am, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there is life outside of Norwich. For years, it has been my pleasure to cover the thespians who’ve strutted the Norwich High School stage, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized kids outside of Norwich can act, too.
Thank you, Colleen Law-Tefft, for calling me all those years ago and challenging me to get off my butt and see some theater outside of Tornado land. I’ve had a ball watching and covering the Sherburne-Earlville drama club advisor’s annual evening of one-act plays for the past three years. Last night, I was able to sneak in a dress rehearsal for this weekend’s lineup, titled “The Play’s the Thing.”
High school theater, in Chenango County and the world over, is lovable both for its successes and its foibles, but sometimes I have to admit a full-length production can be trying to sit through if you’re just not that into it. That’s what makes Colleen’s devise of the 10 one-act play presentations such a treat ... if you don’t like one, it’s over in 10 minutes and you’re on to the next. For those of us, myself included, with short attention spans, it’s just what the doctor ordered. That, and Ritalin.
Another thing I love about these S-E productions is the freedom Colleen gives to her students to express themselves both on stage and off – in addition to acting, several of the students directed a short vignette, and a couple even wrote them!
Though I only got to see the first half, there were several standout performances worth mentioning – and definitely enough to make me want to go back and check out the whole show this weekend (7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the S-E auditorium; admission is $5).
The show starts out with a winner, “Words, Words, Words,” in which Brenda Hoefler, Tyler Rundell and Brent Guiles play a trio of monkeys locked in a room with typewriters – all in a scientist’s hopes that they will eventually, to prove the old chestnut, produce Shakespeare. The three S-E thesps do a great job aping chimps ... bananas and tire swings and all ... and the dialogue is brilliant. Ellen Fagan is a standout once again in “The Nancy,” in which her male best friend’s new bride, played by the slightly nutty Kaitlyn Briggs, warns her to stay away from her man. Fagan has crack comedic timing which is a rare gift at a young age. Similarly, Alison Bensley is full of vim and vigor as a cranky patient in “Peck of Dust.”
The first half of the evening ends on a high note with the melancholy “Who Am I This Time?” based on Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House.” S-E’s Adrian Enscoe hasn’t disappointed me yet, and turns in another bravura performance here as Harry Nash, a shy type who can’t relate to others unless he’s playing a role. And matching him line for line is Brittany Clark as his paramour, Helene Shaw. The two make a powerful duo who are at once charming and sad.
And that’s just Act I!
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In keeping with the short-attention span theme, I’ll switch gears here and throw the spotlight on an Evening Sun feature which required a lot more of an investment to both read and write – Jim Dunne’s 15-part series on Norwich’s famed Y Giants semi-pro football team, which ends in today’s edition. When Jim and Kay Zaia pitched this idea to me over the summer, I have to admit I had only a cursory knowledge of what the Y Giants was, and certainly no idea of the impact they’d have on the community – both in the 1940s and in 2007. I have nothing but the highest praise for Jim’s work on this series; I can only imagine it was 100 times more exciting if you actually knew the players – which, judging by phone calls, e-mails and newsstand sales for the past three weeks, is a quite a number of you! Thanks, Jim, for your tribute to this fascinating part of Norwich’s history and for sharing it with our Evening Sun readers.