Two dramas and a comedy are on tap for Centreville High’s annual One-Act Play Festival.
Presented will be “13 Ways to Screw up a College Interview,” “10,000 Cigarettes” and “The Lottery.” The curtain rises Friday-Saturday, March 21-22, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.
‘13 WAYS … COLLEGE INTERVIEW’
Directing “13 Ways to Screw up a College Interview” is senior Jeremy Washington. “It’s a fast-paced comedy about two college interviewers trying to find one more person to get into their college before they’re fired,” he said. “So they go down the wait list — filled with 13 zany characters — and have them each come in for an interview, and the laughter takes off.”
The cast and crew of 14 has been rehearsing since early January, with Ashley Leightley and Kyle Artone portraying the interviewers. “Our show has a lot of first-time actors, and I want them to have fun and like theater while we’re also getting things done,” said Washington. “And for the most part, it’s been going really well.”
Calling all his thespians “good kids,” he said, “I’m surprised how much they love theater and acting. They’re excited to be in this show and they all have a really good work ethic. They also have great, creative ideas about how they can take their characters to the next level. The audience will like how weird the prospective students are and how the interviewers react to them.”
It’s Washington’s first time directing. “I was a little worried, at first,” he said. “But now that I’ve gotten to do it and gotten to know my actors, I’m really confident about how my show’s going to turn out.” Initially, said Washington, it was tough figuring out some of the show’s technical aspects, but then things fell into place.
“The best part is being able to hang out with a bunch of really cool people and knowing that the experience they’ll take from the show, the friends they make and the things they’ll learn are because of me,” he said. “But the actors taught me as much as I taught them. I thought of the show as a whole, but they’d think about their characters’ little quirks and mannerisms and bring them to me and we’d go with them.”
Senior Jeremy Pritchard is helming “10,000 Cigarettes,” aided by Stage Manager Joey Dell’Omo and Assistant Director Amita Rao. “It’s a drama that takes place after the funeral of four sisters’ father who died of lung cancer from cigarette use,” said Pritchard.
“Throughout the show, they talk about how good cigarettes are,” he said. “Then they start coughing and realize cigarettes are killing them, too, and all they have is each other.” The four girls in the cast are Miranda Newman, Caroline Collier, Gabie Nicchita and Jemma Stratton.
“We’ve been rehearsing since mid-December and things are going wonderfully,” said Pritchard. “These are four, extremely talented girls and I’m so lucky to have them in my cast. I had them read for a specific personality trait that defines each character and picked the actors who portrayed them best. One’s a confident businesswoman and the others are a perky airhead, a goofball and someone sexy.”
He said the audience will like the fact that this play isn’t like regular theater. “It’s more stylized in the acting and writing,” said Pritchard. “For example, the characters will finish each others’ sentences. The set is simple and the location is up to interpretation.”
He was assistant director for Centreville’s production of “Lend Me a Tenor” in the fall, but this is his first time directing. “I learned that, even if you want to be friends with your actors, sometimes you need to put your foot down and let them know you’re in charge,” he said.
But on the whole, Pritchard was glad he got the opportunity to direct. “I really enjoy it because I like seeing my vision come alive,” he explained. “The toughest part is trying to make everything click perfectly — costumes, makeup, etc. But the thing I love most is watching the actors grow and develop their characters.”
Directing “The Lottery” is senior Connor Mitchell. Featuring a cast and crew of 13, this show has been rehearsing since the beginning of February. “It’s a drama about a bunch of townspeople who gather in the town square for a lottery,” said Mitchell.
“They’re pretty casual and are talking about their everyday lives in an upbeat way,” he continued. “Later on, the audience starts to realize this lottery may not be such a good thing — and there’s a shocking twist at the end.”
In the lead roles are Emily Hoffman, who plays Tessie, a villager’s wife who turns out to be a very significant character in the play, and Zane Piper, who portrays Joe Summers, the village leader. He’s almost a celebrity among the townsfolk and he conducts the lottery.
“Things are going well,” said Mitchell. “We’re working hard and everyone’s very committed to the show, so it’s coming along nicely. Eventually, every character is on stage at the same time, so the hardest thing is the blocking to make sure everyone’s seen.”
He, too, is a first-time director. “It’s a lot of work,” said Mitchell. “Since all my experience has been acting, I want to play every part for my actors, but I can’t — I can only give advice. But I’m enjoying the sense of control I have and, like an architect, seeing my creation fall into place and come to life.”
However, he admitted, “I didn’t think directing would be as time consuming as it is. Not only do you have to direct, you have to figure out the blocking, costumes, lighting, set design, etc. so there’s a lot more that goes into directing than I ever realized.”
As for the play, he’s pleased that the story’s arc will be something the audience won’t expect. Said Mitchell: “After feeling at ease for most of the show, there’s such a surprising jolt that it’ll really wake them up.”