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home : the chatfield news April 16, 2014

1/22/2013 1:25:00 PM
Chatfield High School takes one-act play to contest
The cast of Chatfield High School's one-act play,
The cast of Chatfield High School's one-act play, "A Mad Breakfast" placed fourth at sub-section 2A competition in Stewartville on Jan. 19. From left are Tess LaFrenier, Celene Arellano, Gia Cole, Keagan Anthony, in front, and Derek Bethel, Kayla Nelson, Matt Dietz, Nick Buenger and Bri Martinka. Not shown is Levi Cole.
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Beware of the one-act Chatfield High School stage breakfast.

More than just the eggs are scrambled and things get quite mad when the dotty characters pass the jam.

"It's a hilarious 1920s farce comedy that I thought the kids would have fun with," said Chatfield High School (CHS) One Act Play director Tony Cole, summarizing the play "A Mad Breakfast."

The CHS students took the one-act entry to sub-section competition this past Saturday, Jan. 19, in Stewartville. Cole added that he chose the play for its quick, fast-paced humor. He added another reason, "Because deception, although wrong...can be really funny, too."

He pointed out that the play is unique because it's a pre-Depression era show, set in "a simple 1920s boarding house dining room."

Rehearsals for this year's one-act play production began seven weeks ago and the show brings together the talents of 10 students who have come to know one another's theatrical strengths.

"Most of the kids have developed chemistry working with one another while performing in past school theatrical shows, and they all seem to complement each other well," Cole reflected.

The cast features Levi Cole as Mr. Jones, Tess LaFrenier as Ms. Brown, Gia Cole as Lizzy, Keagan Anthony as Mrs. Simpkins, Celene Arellano as Mrs. Green, Kayla Nelson as Ms. Smith, Derek Bethel as Mr. Roberts, Matt Dietz as Mr. Hill, Bri Martinka as Mrs. Dietz and Nick Buenger as Mr. Long. Cole and his wife, Shari, are acting as stage crew.

Cole stated that the repetition of being onstage is a benefit for CHS's young thespians, as many of them return each school year to lend their talents to school productions.

"The more plays I have them doing throughout the year, the more self-reliant they become," he explained. "For the featured seniors Levi Cole, Kayla Nelson and Tess LaFrenier, this will be the last one-act competition they will get to experience firsthand...unless they go on to find themselves directing one in the future. The younger students in this show have had three of the best thespian mentors that they could have ever found, and this is why they will continue to grow their talents and be better performers."

Cole shared there are numerous challenges to taking a show to competition, including "character development, keeping to the 35 minute time limit, traveling with the sets and props, working with the kids' busy school and home life schedules."

Additionally, the director is grateful for thrift stores such as Savers and Goodwill, since finding "period 1920s-era working class costumes" can be difficult.

Furthermore, he noted, "The English language spoken in the early part of the 20th century was more distinguished than spoken today, so the cast had to learn how to form their dialect to complement their characters."

The director enjoys taking on another one-act play season. "Being embedded into Chatfield's theatrical scene with Wits' End Theatre, Chatfield Center for the Arts, as well as working with the Lanesboro Community Theater, directing and cultivating tomorrow's talented group of young thespians seems like second nature to me," Cole said. "I'm always encouraging anyone who ever wondered if they 'had what it takes' to be a part of a play or musical. Most of the time they surprise themselves with what they can do while onstage and in front of the 'bright lights'."

Cole hasn't determined whether a public performance of "A Mad Breakfast" will be given. He noted, "It's to be determined, depending on whether or not we advance in the contests."

He concluded, "I would like to thank Chatfield High School, Wits End Theatre and the parents of the students whom I am humble to have the chance to teach and direct for their continued support, kind words and help in producing Chatfield High School's theatrical productions."

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