Spring play will leave audience wondering whodunit
Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Southwest students take the stage in murder mystery spoof
After a series of more classic children’s stories, Southwest Middle School is mixing it up with this year’s spring play choice.
“This one kind of keeps you like, looking, like, ‘What’s gonna happen?’” seventh-grader Morgan Christian said. “‘Why is this person dead? What’s going on?’”
At 7 p.m. Friday, the group will perform “And Then There Was One,” a spoof of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.”
“I wanted something different,” director and Southwest Middle School teacher Laura Kuisle said.
Christie’s novel is her favorite.
“I love murder mysteries,” Kuisle said. “It’s more fun to have them goof off and see who actually did it.”
In “And Then There Was One,” 10 people are invited to a mansion on a small island. Unaware of who the host is, they nonetheless arrive, only to be greeted by a mysterious recording and then the first body. The guests begin to disappear one by one, as do the chocolate soldiers on the mantelpiece. The characters rush to solve the murder.
Kuisle said the more serious nature of the script means the students have to get into a more serious mood to perform — but it also means they like to milk the comedic moments, she said.
Timothy Chalmers, who plays Matthew Charisma, said the cast has done well memorizing lines and hitting cues. They’re continuing to work on getting their facial expressions just right.
“They’re really good,” said Riley Johnston, an eighth-grader who volunteered to help out and became student director. “They put a lot of effort into it, and I think they enjoy being here.”
They’re going the extra mile, too.
“My students have gotten seriously into character,” Kuisle said.
Inspector Horatio Miles, played by Gavin Hanke, is supposed to be a stealthy character, so he has been sneaking into Kuisle’s classroom and, on one occasion, hid under her desk.
Hanke is a part of a cast of 10 on-stage actors and several student crew members, who in turn are a part of controlling what Christian said has been one of the challenges of the production: lights and sound. Over the course of the play, there are gunshots, an explosion, some musical tracks, a doorbell and a clock chime. The timing has to be just right.
Kuisle said the crew is working with two sound systems, which run simultaneously, and lights in two different spots.
“It’s a huge piece of communication between the backstage crew,” she said. “I’m putting a lot of dependence on them.”
This year’s performance also sets itself apart in that it has a single set, which remains stationary throughout the play.
Seventh-grader Kaitlyn Klocke said being a part of the play has been an enjoyable experience, and that the audience sees that.
“I hope they see, like, how much we’ve enjoyed being in this and how much it actually seems real,” Klocke said.
Kuisle said she hopes the audience sees how much has gone into the show — “just to see how hard the kids have worked and the details the kids have put into not only their characters, but the way they’re acting. Just those small things, not the overall pictures — just the little glances between characters, little facial expressions that they have to have on their face when they’re trying to give away a clue or not give away a clue.”
Clayhorn: Morgan Aanes
Mimms: Morgan Christian
Dr. Albert Prince: Joseph Yoon
Presley York: Joshua Behrends
Emily Plain: Joey Maiden
Heather Starlett: Hannah Willner
Matthew Charisma: Timothy Chalmers
Delores Biggs: Jaylee Waters
Horatio Miles: Gavin Hanke
Margaret La Rue: Kaitlyn Klocke
Mysterious Voice: Isaac Shea
Director: Laura Kuisle
Set Designer/ Assistant Director: Alissa Sauer
Student Director: Riley Johnston
Lights: Jonathan Sanchez and Keygan Lundak
Sound: Ava Cunningham
Backstage: Erika Saindon
Set Builders: Laura Kuisle, Dale Kuisle, Alissa Sauer