‘What If ...’Broadway Players of FHS fall production starts Friday
Fairfield High School special education teacher Betsie Wotherspoon makes her debut as director of the Broadway Players of FHS with “What If ...”
“What If ...” is completely different than any other production the Broadway Players have done. It is a collection of short plays, with no connection, except they make the audience think about “what if ...?”
The short plays are probably a good way for Wotherspoon to start as FHS’s drama director because she’s overseen them for the Iowa High School Speech Association speech competition for more than 20 years.
The production opens with River Norwood as The Traveler reciting the poem “Invitation” by Shel Silverstein, a call for everyone to come in and spin some tales.
Next is “Death of a Snowman,” with 11-year-old Charlotte (Rachel Funkhouser) and Mr. Snowman (Jordan Town) discussing the purpose of life, death and the afterlife.
Ella Phillips is stage manager for “Death of a Snowman.” She also is stage manger for the third presentation: “12 Angry Pigs.”
“12 Angry Pigs,” is a parody of the courtroom classic “12 Angry Men.”
A jury of 12 pigs are in deliberation, deciding if The Wolf is guilty of blowing down The Three Little Pigs’ houses. In the first vote, all but Pig #8 oink that he is guilty.
“There have been so many stories about wolves doing terrible things. Maybe we’ve paid more attention to those fairy tales, and not enough attention to the evidence?” asks Pig #8, and doubt begins to fill the jurors’ minds.
The 12 pigs are played by: Dallas Carlson, Harper Fiske, Zaya Garner, Ahillan Kumar, Holly Harward, Hope Hawkins, Alex Helmick, Michael Hunt, River Norwood, Mira Pappin, Mich Putnam, and Cheson Taylor. Matthew McLain is The Wolf, and Hailey Simmons plays as a multitude of characters, including Little Boy Blue, the bailiff, the judge and Little Red Riding Hood.
The final piece in the first half of “What If ...” is the musical “Gone Missing.”
“Gone Missing” is a compilation of true stories told by ordinary people who lost a beloved doll, a ring, a family heirloom, a valuable photo, a child’s backpack, a Palm Pilot, a Gucci pump, and other items indispensable to them. The play looks at how a loss extends beyond the object itself. It doesn’t answer any questions or give any theories about loss, but just presents different stories and emotions people have with the common experience of losing something they deem important.
Adding their musical and acting talents to this play are Aaron Austin, Rachel Funkhouser, Gwen Kermott, Phoenix Haessler, Holly Harward, Ahillan Kumar, Matthew McLain, River Norwood, Cheson Taylor, and David Wallingford.
The stage manager is Lyd Larsh, and the assistant stage manager is Mira Pappin.
Brush up on your Shakespeare for the last half of “What If ...” The Broadway Players take on “Much Ado About Nothing,” and if you don’t know the story, you might get lost in all the twists and turns.
In the story, Don Pedro (Zaya Garner) and his followers visit the home of Leonata, the Lady of Messina (FHS graduate and guest performer Noel Wotherspoon). Don Pedro has defeated his half-brother, Don John (Aaron Austin), who has now reluctantly joined him and is out to cause trouble.
The play has two love stories. One follows the formal, romantic relationship between Leonata’s daughter, Hero (Gwen Kermott), and Claudio (Jordan Town): Don Pedro, helps Claudio propose marriage, with some confusion about who the suitor is — Don Pedro or Claudio.
The other couple, Beatrice (Phoenix Haessler) and Benedick (Matthew McLain), work hard to give the impression that neither is the least bit interested in the other, and their friends arrange for them to overhear conversations revealing how much each is loved by the other.
Meanwhile, Don John wanting to cause trouble for his brother and Claudio, tricks them into seeing something that isn’t what they think it is. Claudio is so angry, he denounces Hero during their wedding ceremony and storms off. The friar (Dallas Carlson, who also plays the messenger) arranges for Hero to be hidden “as if dead” until Claudio comes to his senses. And drawn together in support of Hero, Beatrice and Benedick finally declare their love for one another.
In the meantime, Dogberry, the comical constable (David Wallingford), and The Watch bunch (Rachel Funkhouser, Cheson Taylor, Mich Putnam, Michael Hunt and Hope Hawkins) stumble onto the conspiracy and arrest Don John’s men Conrade (Hailey Simmons) and Borachio (Alex Helmick), who confess their guilt, with Hugh Oatcake (Ahillan Kumar) taking notes.
After learning about the mean trick, Claudio admits he was wrong to think Hero would cheat on him and, believing her dead, agrees to marry her cousin. Spoiler alert: the cousin turns out to be Hero!
The cast is rounded out with servants Margaret (Lilu Papp) and Ursula (Harper Fiske), and the wedding singer (David Wallingford).
Lyd Larsh is the stage manager and Michael Hunt is the assistant stage manager.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the FHS Auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door.