Home Musical play Putting on this play is murder for the students

Putting on this play is murder for the students

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The curtain will rise Thursday at Assumption College in Brantford as grade 11 drama students stage a murder mystery.

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After persevering in virtual rehearsals over the extended Christmas vacation, the young actors were able to rehearse on stage once in-person learning resumed on January 17.

“It gives them the opportunity to get a taste of what a show would be like, to do from start to finish,” drama teacher Naomi Ratelband said of the production which, as he culminating activity of the course determines the bulk of students’ grades. .

“We can do this show because it’s part of a cohort. Once the class is over, I can’t call them back.

The presentation is called Encore: The Sixth Act. It is written by fellow Cayuga High School of Ratelband graduates, Jeremy Lalonde and Heather Turnbull, who are now working in the theater and film industry.

“It’s a comedy and a play within a play at first,” Ratelband said. “One of the main actors ends up dying on stage and people don’t know why he didn’t come out for the arcs. There’s a lot of slapstick comedies where they make the body look like it came to life at a given time.

Ratelband said the production had all the classic murder mystery components, with a sheriff and a deputy trying to figure out how the character might have died.

Encore was written for a cast of 20 actors, but Ratelband’s class has 28 students.

“Fortunately, I know the playwrights and asked if I could create characters.”

Lia Woods, 16, is in her second year of acting after she “really loved” her first year.

“I really love everyone,” she said. “We all support each other and it’s like a space of comfort. You can be yourself, go on stage and everyone supports you.

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Woods said acting was something she had been doing since elementary school.

“She’s got some fun parts in there, and some parts are important,” Woods said of her portrayal of the Kit character.

Lucas Kersey, 16, has been taking acting classes at ACS since grade 9.

“Acting is fun,” said Kersey, who considers himself a “half-decent actor.”

Kersey plays Oliver, a character who wants to be an actor but isn’t very good at it.

“Being a bad actor and having a Shakespearean accent is pretty tough, but I think I got it,” he said. “He’s a goofy character so it was easy to play. If I mess up a line, it looks like Oliver screwed up.

After learning lines and rehearsing virtually, Kersey said he was glad schools reopened for in-person learning last week.

“We went through it many times, blocking it, turning it on, adjusting all of that. It’s much easier and it works so much better in person.

For 16-year-old Connor Cabral, participating in Encore is a warm-up for his role as Uncle Fester in the school musical production of The Addams Family, which will be staged in April.

“(In Encore) I play Shakespeare. He is very full of himself,” notes Cabral. “I have to do a British accent all the time, so it’s kind of fun.”

Encore’s performance was originally intended to be a dinner theater. But pandemic restrictions mean the performance will take place in the school auditorium where social distancing will allow three other theater classes to attend the show.

The actors will be masked except when speaking.

The performance will be filmed and made available later for anyone who wishes to see it.

“There are a lot of students who want to pursue a career in acting, or something in theatre, whether it’s directing or filmmaking,” Ratelband observed.

“Even for being masked on stage, at least they will have the camaraderie of being side by side. They all seem to fit their roles. They are very funny and dedicated people.

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