‘A year of opportunity’

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Comedy pokes fun at student procrastination, stereotypes


ALDEN — Characters hit somewhat closer to home this year as students play students for Alden-Conger’s fall play.

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Director Ada Theusch said the show, “The Ransom of Miss Elverna Dower,” has colorful and descriptive characters, and her students have taken those roles and run with them.

“Different characters like that really add pizzazz to the show, as well as give the students something to latch onto and make their own,” she said.

Those characters range from a school custodian whose obsession with “Star Trek” turns all his maintenance conversations into space speak, to a teacher whose obnoxious tie plays tinny, slightly off-key Christmas music on repeat. They also include seemingly normal high school students who make a highly abnormal decision: to kidnap their English teacher to avoid taking a test. The only problem?

No one wants her back.

For both sophomore Kim Meislahn and junior Robert VanRiper, who play kidnapping students Casey Matthews and Tim Stack, respectively, their roles are bigger than ones the two have taken on in the past.

“It’s challenging, but I’m ready and excited for it,” VanRiper said. He has performed in Alden-Conger plays since coming to the secondary school in seventh grade.

For Meislahn, there are some nerves there, but also some confidence she can do it, she said.

“This is the biggest role I’ve ever had,” she said. “I’m pretty terrified, but mostly I have my lines down.”

She said playing students has been fun because it allows her to wear her own clothes and have more say in her hair and makeup looks.

“It gives you a lot of creative freedom,” she said.

Senior Monica Bute is stepping into a slightly less familiar role as principal. Watching the grade above her perform and gain experience was inspirational for her, she said. She has enjoyed watching her fellow cast members turn their characters into real people.

“I think my favorite part is watching everything come together,” she said.

At 31 actors and 11 crew, the cast is slightly bigger and slightly newer to the stage than previous years.

“It’s been a year of opportunity,” Theusch said — opportunity for her students to show their potential as actors.

The show is also an opportunity for the audience to get in a few laughs, VanRiper said.

“It’s very funny,” he said. “There’s a lot of good burns in it. … It’s a lot of back and forth and it’s just a fun play.”

Laurie Bryant’s “The Ransom of Miss Elverna Dower” runs 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Alden-Conger High School.

Casey Matthews (Kim Meislahn) accepts gum from fellow student Tim Stack (Robert VanRiper), though gum is not allowed at their school. The pair later agree to kidnap their English teacher to avoid taking a test. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

Tickets, please

What: “The Ransom of Miss Elverna Dower”

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Alden-Conger High School gymnasium

How much: $6 for adults, $4 for students and seniors


Cast list

Casey Matthews: Kim Meislahn

Tim Stack: Robert VanRiper

Mr. Lockman: Griffin Steele

Principal Donnelly: Monica Bute

Ms. Hamilton: Trinity Johnson

Monty the Custodian: Kaiden Jenson

Mrs. Post: Jenny Mulholland

Mrs. Bentley: Ahnika Johnson

Hilda: Emmie Jacobs

Miss Hightower: Kate Greenfield

Erik the Viking, school mascot: Eli Thelen

Michelle: Izabelle Thostenson

Myra Lyman: Annika Riebe

Coach Sever: Chase Hoffman

Andrea: Lexi Abrego

Captain Peters: Shelby Watkins

Raphaelle: Paige Diekmann

PTA parent 1: Bella Garcia

PTA parent 2: Will Jacobs

PTA parent 3: Timber-Lea-Rae Steele

Extra PTA parents: Isabelle Brown, Emma Kleinschrodt, Gianna Hensche, Maddie Hoover

Extra students: Alicia Brukhof, Kayla Thunstedt, Ella Riebe, Maggie Evans, Lindsay Thunstedt, Danni Betts, Zoe Larson

Mascot Erik the Viking (Eli Thelen) tries to convince his cousin Michelle (Izabelle Thostenson) to join him as a mascot-in-training for the school. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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