By James Grob, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s “A Night of Shorts” in Nashua.
No, that doesn’t mean people will be expected to come dressed in attire more appropriate for summer.
The fall drama production at Nashua-Plainfield High School is a little bit different this year, and that’s just the way director Katherine Bailey likes it.
“It seemed like a task that I could take on to start with, to get my feet wet,” said Bailey, in her first year of teaching at the school. “It is my first time as a director.”
Rather than do a typical two-or-three-act production, Bailey opted to instead produce a collection of short, one-act plays — all around 15 minutes in length.
“A Night Of Shorts” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, and then again at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at the NPHS gym. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the performances.
Bailey is a native of Charles City and developed her drama expertise at Charles City High School, and said she is excited to be getting the chance to bring that knowledge to the established program in Nashua.
“I grew up in the drama department there under Linda Brant, Mike Lembke and Jen Burton, and I’ve come back and helped with speech for the last five years,” she said. “Now, coming into a program that I get to influence as a director myself, it’s really fun.”
Another drama influence has come straight from home. Bailey’s parents, Brad and Brenda Bailey, are both Charles City residents, and Brenda is a teacher as well as a speech and drama coach at Charles City. Bailey said her mother has helped her with general support.
“She’s helped me try to learn how to balance teaching, life and directing,” Bailey said. “It’s a long day, and trying to find that balance can be difficult.”
The one-act plays which will be presented include “Garage Sale,” by Mike Willis; “Say It With Flowers,” by Jim Gustafson; “While the Auto Waits,” by O.Henry, adapted for the stage by Walter Wykes; “The First Fireworks,” by Alex Broun; and “What’s in a Name?” by James Grob. In all, it will provide about an hour’s worth of material.
The show closes with “What’s in a Name,” a comedy in which a young married couple expecting their first child gets into an argument over what they want to name the baby, and the argument escalates to outrageous proportions.
“I thought it was just hilarious,” said Bailey. “I fell in love with it, and I realized that we had a real-life couple that could take on those roles as actors.”
That couple consists of seniors Abby Poppe and Drew Moine, both veterans of the NPHS stage. Both said they’ve warmed up to the idea of doing a collection of shorter work as compared to a typical play.
“I really like having the short plays, because then everyone has a bigger part in their own play, compared to just having smaller roles in one big play,” said Poppe.
“I think there are pros and cons to it,” said Moine. “I like having short plays because you’re able to follow the plot easier.”
Neither said they were feeling any nerves leading up to the show this weekend.
“I’m in speech too, so I’m used to it,” said Moine.
“Garage Sale” opens the show. It stars Cadence Ellifritz, Carlee Smith, Isaac Swaney, Madisyn Millermon and Katelyn Laird. The play is about a mother and daughter who are downsizing from a house to apartment and trying to get rid of some unnecessary possessions — possessions which the daughter would rather hold onto.
“First Fireworks” is a tender story about a mother/daughter relationship, starring Cadence Ellifritz and Katelyn Laird. Bailey said that the strong family theme made her feel very passionate about the play, and she knew she had strong actors who could carry the scene out successfully.
“Say It With Flowers,” a comedy, is a matter of mistaken identity, where sending flowers might have a hidden meaning. It stars Alexa Cline, Greta Glaser, Tanner Striegel, Carlee Smith and Jayne Levi.
“While the Auto Waits,” the adaptation of the O.Henry work, also deals with mistaken identity of a different kind. It stars Jayne Levi, Tanner Striegel, Isaac Swaney and Caitlyn McDonald.
“The plays are all so much fun,” said Bailey. “They are exciting for the kids to do, and they’re completely into it.”
Bailey said the work being done backstage is equally important as the work onstage, and she credited Tyler Anderson, stage manager; Bryce Anderson and Noah Foelske, lights; Michael Stille and Wiley Jenison, sound; Luke Cerwinske, curtains; and Hailey Lechtenberg, Hannah Lechtenberg and Brieley Gerholdt, props; for their contributions to the production.
“The people around me, the mentors that I have, have really been helpful,” Bailey said. In particular, she mentioned Paige Malven, a math teacher and former speech coach who has been at Nashua-Plainfield for more than 20 years, who has been working as the backstage director for the production.
“She’s just been so helpful and supportive,” Bailey said. “She’s really taken over the backstage stuff, which is not my area of expertise.”