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Red Oak students engineer play

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‘Who done it' surprising
News Editor
RED OAK - Most eighth-graders are busy planning shopping trips to the mall or playing video games with their best buds.

But for 19 Red Oak junior high students, their hearts and passion have been poured into writing and producing 'Help,' an hour-long comedy/drama.

Six students worked together brainstorming the plot and characters for the play in which a detective must determine who killed a wealthy heiress in her own home during a dinner party.

Assistant director and eighth-grader Katelyn McWilliams said this was an experience she would never forget.

'There is nothing like it,' McWilliams said.

'You can act in a play, but until you helped contribute something that is bigger and better you just can't describe it.'

McWilliams took the suggestions from her fellow classmates and wrote the screenplay.

After six weeks of rehearsals, students in the Advanced Theatre class under the direction of Red Oak Junior High Drama teacher Katrina Knight presented the play Friday, Nov. 10 to a packed house of their parents and friends.

This is the first time a Red Oak junior high class has presented a play written, produced and directed by the students themselves.

As a semester-long project for the entire class students completed little projects for daily and six-week grades.

Some of the projects included making cookies and brownies for guests to enjoy after the show or make posters advertising the play.

'I wanted them to have a very rounded aspect of what acting was,' Knight said who majored in theatre while attending Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

'I wanted the kids to see there is so much more to theatre - lights, design, backstage work.'

Eighth-grader Spencer Blan-den directed the play.

Yet this was not Blanden's first exposure to plays because he works behind the scenes on projects at his church.

In his directorial debut he did an excellent job as each actor hit their mark seamlessly during the performance.

Their voice quality was strong enough to be heard throughout the venue and audience participation was encouraged as Detective Jones, played by Taylor McClain, asked the audience their opinions on which dinner guest killed the heiress.

This well-written play had lots of twists and turns buried in the plot to keep the audience guessing on who killed the heiress.

Was it the butler? The college professor? The librarian?

The true killer, Sally, was not revealed until the end of the show.

Through Jones' investigation we discover Sally and the heiress were once close friends, but Sally in a jealous rage to get her ex-boyfriend back killed her former best-friend.

Knight said she enjoyed working with her students on this production because they were so eager to learn.

'Every single kid in every single aspect has grown so much,' Knight said.

'It has exceeded my wildest expectation.'

The cast: Ms. Holly was played by Kaycie Bird, Tony Scaggolioni was played by Brandon Loera, Kayleigh Kitzman was played by Cynthia Adams, Professor Voughknocker was played by Chris McClure, Jack Baker was played by Dan Sandri, Lola Bola was played by Hanan Esaili, Sally was played by Renee Castillo, Michele was played by Meredith Milligan, Detective Jones was played by Taylor McClain and Shelby Hooper played various characters throughout the play.

The crew: Lindsay Prasifka was in charge of the set, Peyton Aycock helped with publicity, Alex Hill was in charge of lights, Emily Savitt was in charge of costumes, RoseAnn Foster was publicity head, Allison Sheperd was the stage manager, Katelyn McWilliams was the assistant director and Spencer Blanden was the director.

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