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By Ed Moreth 

Plains drama club a big hit


February 3, 2022

Ed Moreth

DEATH SCENE – Michael Cain, played by Dawson Brown, holds the hand of Lily Adair, played by Aubrey Tulloch, in one of the more dramatic parts of "A Little Piece of Heaven," a play put on by Plains High School's drama club.

The Plains Drama Club's first performance in the new school building was a big success last week, according to the club's coach Terri Henry. "It was great! Both performances were superb," said Henry, the drama coach for 30 years. "Every character was well played and held while on stage," said Henry, who added that the students' performance was "amazing."

The 13 Plains High School and home school students put on two performances of "A Little Piece of Heaven" Thursday and Friday in the school's new gymnasium and multipurpose building. The two-hour performances received standing ovations from the audiences each night.

"They were awesome. They did great, great," said Cathy Emmett, the assistant coach, who added that she was glad they finally got to do "A Little Piece of Heaven." The play had been postponed last fall because of COVID, which also played havoc with rehearsals this year, added Henry.

"A Little Piece of Heaven" was a rare chance for the audience to see the students act out a few dramatic scenes. Though most of the play was comedic, there were long dramatic scenes, including a death scene, something the drama club has not done in a production since 2017. "I've never had a dramatic scene like this," said Dawson Brown, a senior who has been in Plains plays since his freshman year. The spring will be his last play in high school, but he plans to act in Montana State University's drama club. As the character Michael Cain, a motorcyclist looking for a job, Brown had 369 lines, the most in the play and the most he's ever done. He said playing a dramatic part was a little out of character for him, but he'd like to do more.

Brown was one of four seniors in the play, with Aubrey Tulloch, Hailee Steinebach, and home schooler Susannah Lindsay. This was the first play for Steinebach, who said it was fun and she is considering doing the spring play, as is Lindsay, who has performed with the Paradise Players, but never with the school.

The play was set in a little curiosity shop owned by an elderly couple, played by Django Oakcedar and Mikiah Cook, where people search for long lost precious items. One customer (Jacob Lulack) finds a school letter jacket he had lost some 20 years ago. A woman (Lindsay) finds an autographed baseball that her grandfather hit in 1941, when he played one game in which he nabbed a home run.

It was the first performance for Oakcedar, who played Henry.  The freshman said he was talked into being part of the play by two other cast members, but then they backed out. He had fun with it, but is undecided if he will continue a school acting career.

Henry was happy to have their first play in the new building and said everything worked out fine. They were able to utilize a new portable stage platform on wheels. She said the acoustics are 100 times better than the fairgrounds pavilion, where they used to perform the plays, and audience capacity is higher at the new gym with bleachers, which provides better viewing. There were about 120 people in attendance on Thursday. Henry knew there would be more people on Friday evening, based on all the Facebook compliments. Thinking there would be standing room only, she had additional folding chairs set out, and had nearly 170 people in the audience for the second showing. "The new venue was great. There didn't seem to be a bad seat anywhere," she said. Henry and Emmett also didn't have a break in the play. "We decided not to have an intermission so it wouldn't interrupt their flow," said Emmett, who also served as the hair and makeup technician. Henry was also pleased with their light and sound technician, freshman RuBea Privett, who took on the task for the first time. "She's our mood setter," said Henry. The cast rehearsed up to the day before the play with their first dress rehearsal on Tuesday.

This was the first time on stage for Alexander Horodyski, who had 83 lines, one of the highest in the play. The sophomore said he never got nervous and is now hooked. "I loved it; I had fun," said Horodyski, whose mother, Ivy, talked him into trying out. She was part of the drama club all through high school and also served as an assistant in the production. He said he's definitely going to be in the spring play and others during his remaining high school years.

Horodyski's character, Jared Havens, was unhappy with turning 50 years old and constantly complained to his wife (Anna Hefner) about it. Meanwhile, Michael Cain, who got a job at the shop to pay for his motorcycle repairs, has a bit of a run in with an elderly woman, Lily (Tulloch), who pries into Michael's life. They eventually get to know each other and become close. He tells her of his wife's death and she tells him she's been searching for something at the shop for years, but won't immediately say what. She finally tells him it's a record album, "The Anniversary Waltz," a dance she did with her late husband. Michael finds the record at the shop and she has the one last dance with him before she dies. The shop owners end up giving the shop to Michael and leave to open another somewhere else, something they have done over and over, place after place, leaving the audience wondering how old the couple was. Were they ghosts or as Emmett said, "were they angels?"

Also in the cast were students Mackenzie Tulloch and Greg Tatum.


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