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Hang Out at This ‘Bus Stop’

Churchill High to present classic play next week.

The wind is gusting, snow is rapidly piling up and blustery conditions have stranded eight strangers in a Kansas diner in the winter of 1955. What happens next is anyone’s guess as the characters experience frustration, tears and laughter while they forge romantic connections and friendships throughout the night.

Churchill High School presents “Bus Stop” — the iconic play by William Inge — on Feb. 8, 9 and 10.

“Bus Stop is an endearing, deceptively simple play that taps into universal feelings,” said director and Churchill theater teacher Lynda Scionti. “I have wanted to direct this production for some time, and it finally came together with this cast at Churchill. We have wonderfully gifted actors and designers who together will bring Inge’s work to life in a most remarkable way.”

This is Scionti‘s second year teaching and directing at Churchill. Besides theater classes, she teaches film-making and ninth grade honors English. She is thrilled with the commitment as well as the level of talent at Churchill and grateful for the other performing arts teachers and staff in her department.

The lead part of Bo Decker, a brash young cowboy with abominable manners, is played by senior Erik Rigaux. “Playing Bo is a challenge because I had to portray a man who has no regard for other’s emotions and make him into a lovable character,” said Rigaux. “Bo has no idea of how to treat a girl. He only knows how to rope a cow; he’s rough and tough, but he does have a soft side.” Bo wants Cherie to marry him but she keeps running away. He has to gather fatherly advice from his sidekick Virgil (Aaron Ross) on how to treat a woman.

Junior Elena Freije performs the part of Cherie, a pretty young woman who comes from a difficult “hill folk” background. She is an aspiring nightclub singer, but has never worked in anything other than a cheap dive. “I was first upset with the characters because they just morally did not do what they should,” said Freije. “I learned from this play that appearances aren’t everything — and that it takes time to understand someone. People aren’t always what they seem. It’s a meaningful lesson to take away from this play.”

Other students in the cast are Alexa Taladay as waitress Elma Duckworth, Sean Dunn as Grace Hoylard, owner of the restaurant, Alex Bankier as Sheriff Will Masters, Alex Goldman as Dr. Gerald Lymann, a former college professor, J.W. Goldman as Carl, the bus driver and Aaron Ross as ranch hand Virgil Blessing.

The tech crew was faced with the challenge of designing and building a set that is completely realistic. Scott Selman, Churchill technical director, explained that they also had to figure out ways to create the shabby run-down diner as well as all the sound effects and lighting that takes place because of the blizzard.

“This play is both nostalgic and humorous,” Rigaux said. “People will enjoy the realism of this heartwarming play. It also includes a variety show in the middle with singing, guitar playing — and even Shakespeare. There’s something for everyone.”

Purchase tickets ($8) for “Bus Stop” at www.wchsarts.com or at the door. The performances are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.