The Whole Shebang conquers districts

Sydney Jezik, News Editor

Oct. 18th, 2019, Waunakee High School hosted the district-level competition of the Wisconsin High School Theater Festival (WHSTF) One Act competition. 

Waunakee’s Drama Club performed at 6:45pm in the high school’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) to an audience of fans and competitors — with the latter comprising the One Act casts and crews of DeForest, Poynette and Monona Grove high schools. 

Waunakee’s One Act several weeks of practice culminated in received favorable reviews from a panel of four adjudicators. The One Act has now advanced to the sectional level of the One Act competition, which will take place on Oct. 29th-30th, 2019, in Waunakee, Wisconsin. Following sectionals is the state festival in Milwaukee, which will take place in November.

This year, Waunakee is performing The Whole Shebang, a 40-minute single-act play. Junior Allison Smith stars as Marge, a stressed drama instructor who herself is trying to put on a One Act play, but must simultaneously manage rival directors, a host of bickering students and advisors and inconvenient technical issues. Junior Allison Horvatin plays a future version of Marge, who has been placed in a mental asylum following the stress of putting on the One Act.

“I play a lot of really comedic roles, and this time it feels like I’m taking a more serious approach to comedy… but I have to make it funny for the audience, so I have to find the balance of when to be super serious and when to be more comedic,” said Horvatin.

“I love it. I think it’s a really good One Act play that people should see,” said junior Zack Curton, who student directs the play along with junior Emma Maas and the understudy student director, sophomore Reese Adler.

The Whole Shebang utilizes interesting technical effects that, in some ways, sets it apart from Waunakee’s One Acts in previous years. At one point, seniors Olivia Foght and Victoria McKellar, who respectively play Lila Graham and Kathren Hoggadorn (the aforementioned rival directors), run off the stage and into the aisles. At another point, the theater goes dark, and a series of flashing spotlights illuminates an action scene on-stage. 

These technical effects are engineered by the crew of the One Act. This year, the crew is composed of over 30 students, with junior Sophie Wilcks as stage manager, junior Elliot Petroff responsible for lighting and junior Maddy Nelson in charge of the sound board.

In charge of ‘the whole shebang’ is English instructor, PAC director and drama club advisor Rick Braun, who directs Waunakee’s One Act.

When asked how the play was progressing, Braun said, “Excellent. We’re so far ahead compared to where we normally are [each year].”

One Act’s cast includes sophomore Ruby Hlathein as Parkly Ophelia, sophomore Zach Grasee as Mitch Frieland, junior Allison Smith as Marge, junior Allison Horvatin as future Marge, junior Elena Paul as Betty Koskins, junior Izzy Moore as Slidell Ophelia, junior DJ Petty as Miller Bentley, junior Sean Hall as Jeremy Cox, senior Olivia Foght as Lila Graham, Victoria McKellar as Kathren Hoggadorn and senior Cody Miller as Mark Hodges.

Many members of this year’s cast are upperclassmen — veterans of the Waunakee One Act program. Foght, McKellar and Miller all have participated in One Act every year of their high school careers, and last year, each had a starring role in the spring play A Midsummer’s Night Dream by William Shakespeare.

Miller discussed his role as Mark Hodges in The Whole Shebang. In the play, Mark Hodges is another director in the One Act competition, a trusted friend of Marge, who ends up stabbing her in the back.

“I really love playing the role… I’m this powerful figure who is being very vindictive behind the scenes. It’s fun to be somebody who has this smug personality and at the end you kind of figure out what strings he’s been pulling, so I guess it’s fun to be a bad guy.”

“I really enjoy the fight choreography. Getting beaten up every night is phenomenal. You get to do a lot of experimenting with the role. If you watch closely, I do throw in some subtle Easter eggs about my character.”

In addition to the upperclassmen, this year’s One Act contains a healthy freshman component. Braun singled them out in his interview. “We have a boatload of freshmen this year,” he said. “They’re stepping into leading roles and tasks already.”

“I did all the middle school drama stuff and I wanted to keep doing it [in high school],” said freshman Abby Truscott. “[One Act] is really fun, and all the upperclassmen are really nice and helpful.”

“I love One Act. It’s so much fun. I personally think it’s going pretty well right now… we have rehearsal every day after school… I think we’re pretty well prepared,” said Smith.

“I think that drama club is getting off to a very strong start,” said Horvatin. “[This year] we have the One Act and the musical and a winter play, and I’m very excited for all of them because I feel each actor can find their unique strengths and build their skills.”

This year’s winter play will be a portrayal of As You Like It, one of William Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, and like most Drama Club winter productions, it will be primarily run and directed by students. 

Further, every other year, the Drama Club produces a musical in the spring. This year the musical will be Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.

If interested in becoming a part of Drama Club, a student may reach out to Braun to find out ways to get involved. They may also go directly to an audition for As You Like It or Fiddler on the Roof, which will take place in January and March, respectively.