by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
The aspirations and delusions of a teenager dealing with depression, and his impact on close friends who grew up with him, is the storyline of Elk River’s one-act competition play entry, “The Puppet Show.”
“It’s a very cerebral play,” said director Michelle Brooks. “We put in things to help the audience follow it easier. At the end, it keeps you thinking for longer than the 35 minutes you spent watching.”
Sub-section competition will be held Saturday at Buffalo with ERHS slated for 1:50 p.m. The top two of six plays will advance to sectionals.
Tonight, the public is welcome to view this play and a non-competition play (see below) Saturday evening, starting 7 p.m. at Zabee Theatre.
Four ERHS participants were named all-conference on Tuesday at the Northwest Suburban Conference festival at Champlin Park. They are actors Cara Fromm, Adam Habarneh, and Brady Murphy, and technician Autumn Laniel, the student director/backstage manager.
Murphy, a slight, bespectacled junior in his first lead role, plays James, whose guardian is older sister Sam (Fromm), both orphaned by an auto accident.
James is under medication he’d rather not take. He’s too restless to sleep, haunted by tragedies (real? imagined?) that took place at 2:48 a.m. He realizes he can’t be what his girlfriend Sarah (Alicia Brady) needs, so he pushes her toward a close friend, Sean (James Bound). He narrates stories about himself and his friends, some of which really happen, some which don’t.
“It’s a really deep role,” said Brooks, “and Brady brings the ability to analyze the character and pull out some amazing emotions.”
The cast also includes Lucas Laniel and Aggie Menke as Luke and Catherine, members of the group who fall in love; Haberneh as James’ best friend; and Grace Heyne as Kelly, another friend.
“The Puppet Show” was penned by J.S. Hokestra when he was a senior at Fridley; he is now a sophomore at UW-River Falls.
Brooks, formerly director at Spring Lake Park, saw it performed by Fridley two years ago and liked the way it made her think.
“I chose it because, one, it’s a good story, and two, I thought it would be a chance for the kids to pick his brain and talk to him about the characters,” said Brooks. “Which they did. He came for two days over his winter break.”
“The Music Box,” written and directed by Harbeneh, a music and theatre standout, is the non-competition play to be presented at 7 p.m. tonight, followed by “The Puppet Show.”
Harbeneh said it’s a tale of two young people whose love for each other led to tragedy.
“A complicated love,” added Menke, who plays the lead alongside Jordan Plachecki.
The cast of 11 includes Anessa Demers and Laniel as her disapproving parents.