On the Same Frequency

Nikiski teacher showcases own play at Kenai restaurant

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

Writers often get their material from personal life experiences. In the case of Nikiski teacher Joe Rizzo, his play is not only based on his own college experiences, but the cast is made up of his former students.

Rizzo's one act play titled "On the Same Frequency," is the first play he has written that will be performed. He wrote the play, changing the names and the ending, to create a play that lasts just over an hour.

"It's not quite the same, but it's based on the event that happened," he said with a reminiscent smile.

While the occurrences are based on life, the actors happen to be living the lifestyle portrayed on stage.

All seven cast members are college students who have returned home to Alaska for the summer.

Four of the cast members -- Derek Kirschner, his twin brother, Daniel, Tammie Johnson and Annie Olson -- met Rizzo in the seventh-grade in Wrangell. But Rizzo and his family left Wrangell to come to the Kenai Peninsula before the group's junior year in high school.


Whitman College RA Dave, played by Mario Bird, confronts Jerry and Andy, played by Derek Kirschner and Alden Ford, about dorm activities he does not approve of.

Photo by Sara J. Smith

"It's been a lot of fun working with them again," he said. "I always felt I didn't get the chance to finish up with them."

Johnson, a student at University of Alaska Fairbanks, said she has enjoyed working with Rizzo again.

"He has this way of making people excited about acting," she said.

She performed in "The Wizard of Oz," "The Music Man" and other plays under Rizzo's direction.

When not rehearsing, Johnson and four others also spent the week teaching area kids drama skills as staff members of the Alaska Children's Institute for the Performing Arts. (See related story on this page.)

Three others in the cast -- Alden Ford, Jim Broussard and Mario Bird -- were student of Rizzo's class at Nikiski High School. He said the three men are talented, both as a group and as individuals.


After returning from a double date, Carolyn and Andy, played by Annie Olson and Alden Ford, converse with Susan and Jerry, played b y Tammie Johnson and Derek Kirschner.

Photo by Sara J. Smith

"They are creative, especially together," Rizzo said.

The entire group will perform the play after only rehearsing together for one week.

Rizzo said he chose the cast and sent them scripts before they all returned to Alaska, but they have only had the past week to practice together.

Even with little rehearsal time, the cast delivers a witty

look into the life of single college students bent on having

fun, illegal or not.


College roommates Jerry and Andy, played by Derek Kirschner and Alden Ford, examine a package and letter that was found on their door step.

Photo by Sara J. Smith

"On the Same Frequency," is set in the 1970s at Whitman College in Washington state.

The main actors, Jerry, played by Kirschner and Andy, played by Ford, are

best friends and students at Whitman. The two men and their friend Darrin, played by Broussard, produce an underground radio station from their dorm room. The radio show aims at poking fun at teachers and administrators at the college.

All the while, both men deal with Dave, the resident assistant (RA) played by Bird, and are in love with fellow student Carolyn, played by Olson.

With comical dialogue, the play presents the realism of the messy rooms, overbearing RAs and chemistry tests that will bring back the feel of college life for some.

"On the Same Frequency," will be performed tonight through Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Old Town Village Restaurant in Kenai. Additional dinner theater performances will be held June 14 though 16 with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. and show time starting at 8 p.m.

Tickets for dinner theater shows are $25; tickets for this weekend's shows are $8. For reservations, call the Old Town Village Restaurant at 283-4515.

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