by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
“A Time to Go Home,” written as a vehicle for teens to explore dying, and living, is Elk River’s entrant in the MSHSL one-act plays competition.
A public showing for the 35-minute play is slated for Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at Zabee Theatre. The sub-section competition will be held earlier in the day at Buffalo High School with ERHS slated to start at 10:50 a.m. (right after Rogers at 10 a.m.). The top two among six will advance to Section 5AA a week later at STMA.
When a high school play opens with four caskets on the stage, you know you’re not in for lighthearted fare, although there are some comic moments.
ERHS actors Kelsey Rausch (Stephanie), Alex Doebler (David), Alicia Brady (Jennifer) and Adam Habarneh (Earl) frolic into the mortuary, buzzing cheerily about the near-miss their school bus just had, only to shockingly realize that they have all died when they see that the caskets contain their own bodies.
“Ali, Alex, Adam and Kelsey all had to explore thoughts and emotions surrounding something most young people don’t ever want to think about, or they believe will not happen to them … death,” said director Michelle Brooks.”How would they feel if they really were lying in those coffins, what would they regret, what would they be proud of, what is their legacy. I feel like they did an amazing job.”
Habarneh was given the Earl role just last Friday when the original actor was unable to continue, Brooks said. He was originally slated for a smaller role.
“Adam stepped in and learned the lines, blocking and character,” said Brooks. “The cast has rallied around Adam, and Adam has soared …. He is an inspiration!”
Parents and friends enter the scenes as David agonizes over rocky relationship with his parents (Alex McCormick and Beth Brady), Stephanie has a sensitive dialogue with her mother (Autumn Laniel) about dying, Jennifer listens with dismay as her friends (Emily Meyer and Abby Eilertson) chat only about light topics and ignore her attempts at anything serious, and Earl has the same experience with his buddies (James Bound and Jeremiah Turcotte).
Jennifer struggles with her mom’s (Kelsey Wakeman) admonition that there’s nothing beyond death. Earl participates in a game show moderated by McCormick, offstage, which reveals painfully that he’s never had a close friendship. The most pious of the four pals, Stephanie, helps them find peace with their pasts by quoting a Bible verse about God’s love enduring even beyond death.
The cast also includes Lucas Laniel and Hope Martindale as Earl’s parents and Maddie O’Conner as a TV reporter.
Brooks said she chose the play – written by G.M. (Bud) Thompson, who based it on group discussions with teens – because the personal journeys of the four teens is intriguing and there are some diverse smaller roles as well.
The play made its debut Tuesday evening at the Northwest Suburban Conference festival (non-competition) in Osseo and Brooks said it went well.
If you go
“A Time to Go Home”
ERHS one-act play
starts 7 p.m.; running time 35 minutes
Tickets: $4 adults, $2 students, senior citizens free