By Charles Collier, The Denmark News
Denmark high’s spring play took place last weekend in front of three crowds who were all ready to laugh. A display of dynamic acting, endless humor moving between pure silliness and dark wit, and a vibrant collection of cast ranging from seasoned veterans to first-timers, “Writing A Will Can Be Murder” was an enthralling end to this year’s theater season.
Some of the players had to capture multiple personalities, sometimes in the same scene, and did so seamlessly with absolute confidence in their characters.
Student director Stephanie Valenta (Mildred and Candice), in addition to production duties and suffering a broken ankle midway through preparations, was tasked with portraying a pair of twins—in the same scene. While this may at first glance sound impossible, cleverly the scenes were blocked for Valenta to, “go check on” her sister with the off-stage conversations mic’d for the audience to hear.
Playing the younger versions of Valenta’s characters, Corrine Charapata in her theatrical debut charmingly switched between two drastically different personalities at the literal drop of a hat.
Sam Patterson (Producer One), also performing on stage for the first time, made the most of a small role by accentuating the pleas of a man desperately heartbroken by what-never-was. Through a childish sense of infatuation, Patterson showed great maturity on the stage and Denmark should be excited to see what else he has in store.
Emily Tomcek’s transition from a quasi-Victorian superego into her cold Soviet sister was flawless. According to director Lori Knoflicek, the production crew wasn’t exactly sure how to play Betty Crawford’s twin, Nettie. Tomcek came in with a vision and ran with it, creating a vivid persona which led the second act.
In her first play at the high school, Nicole Rabas (young Betty Crawford) shined as an
intermittent star providing many flashbacks driving the storyline. She had buckets of confidence in this integral role and complemented the “adult” version of her character (Tomcek) consistently which made the hilarity all the easier to digest.
Caleb Diny, who commanded most of the second act’s attention, had subtle comedy oozing from every line and mannerism he delivered. Whether awkward or straightforward, Diny brought the laughs whenever a punchline was his to take. Diny’s silly, almost goofish character was counter-balanced by Devan Siebert’s regal and absurd performance as a butler (and then former butler.)
Siebert’s main character (Barrymore) had a strict adherence to manners and etiquette being tested against anger and suspicion, and his portrayal and timing were both excellent. Whenever a moment seemed to be getting dry, Siebert reliably would steal the show with either a witty insult or hilariously out-of-place wail. He also played a tertiary role during one of the flashbacks, showing more of his depth.
Every player and production member made this version of Eddie McPherson’s Writing A Will Can Be Murder unforgettable and a testament to the potential of high school theater. From everyone at The Denmark News, bravo!