by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
A fight scene and a “chicken” scene — a dangerous 1950s game played by teenagers in autos – are two of the challenges in Rogers’ one-act-play entry, an abbreviated version of the ’50s hit movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”
Rogers will compete at sub-sections Saturday in Buffalo, taking the stage at 10 a.m. They’ve done a sneak preview at Zabee Theatre Jan. 17 and performed at the Mississippi 8 festival last Saturday at STMA.
Eric Noland plays the brooding, intense Jim, who is goaded into a fistfight by Buzz, played with intimidating swagger by Jason Chamlongson. Both are making their stage debuts.
The boys duke it out, much to the delight of Buzz’s fans Judy (Kate Stillman and Haley Koerner) and to the horror of Jim’s worrisome friend Plato (Alexa Gerber).
“The fight scene was tricky to set-up,” acknowledged Amanda Pederson, co-director with Gail Weber. “We worked a lot on getting it right. BJ Brent helped our fighters with this scene. Yes, there were a couple actual contacts during rehearsals!”
Buzz escalates the feud into the “game of chicken” where the teenage enemies, cheered on by their respective friends, each drive a car toward a cliff, with the “loser” being the one who jumps first, but a much bigger loser being the one who doesn’t jump in time.
“Gail and I went back and forth with how we wanted to set up the chicken scene,” said Pederson. “Once we saw how well our students can portray the drama in their faces, we went with minimal scenery.”
Noland, Chamlongson and Stillwell got all-conference at the Mississippi 8 festival. Gerber and Johnna Kringen (tech) got honorable mention.
The cast also includes Jackie Morgan, Hannah Graffunder, Lucas Joseph, Haley Koerner, Vanessa Moen, Tyler Donnay, Kenny Kalk, Kaylin Robbins and Emily Bourgeois.