Nikiski production delivers comedy, drama in fall show

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2002

True to its name, "Encore! Encore!" will leave audience members cheering for more.

The show is a fund-raising production of Nikiski High School's state champion drama, debate and forensics team. It will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Nikiski Middle-High School auditorium.

Rather than presenting a full-length play, team members will perform a series of reader's theater pieces interspersed with music from the Kenai Dixieland Band.

"We did this (fund-raising event) two years ago, but this is the first year we have been able to have live music with it," said Nikiski DDF coach Joe Rizzo. "I'm really excited about that, and these pieces are well rehearsed. The kids have been working on some of these since September."

The majority of the pieces are comedies, and range in subject from ditzy teenage girls facing the daunting social challenge of ordering lunch to a couple of salmon that show up late for the biyearly pink salmon run in the Kenai River.

Two of the comedies are from Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry. "Black Hole" is a how-to guide for people stumbling down the ill-fated path to becoming homeowners. The second Barry piece is purposely performed at the end of the show to give audience members a chance to retain their sanity by leaving before the actors begin.

Ordinarily, actors wouldn't want an audience to walk out before the curtain call, but these actors implore people to do so in the introduction of this piece -- Dave Barry's infamous "Bad Song Survey."

While extremely funny, the piece has the unfortunate side effect of getting horrific songs like "Leader Of The Pack" and some lyrical gems by Neil Diamond stuck in listeners' heads.

Rizzo himself wrote the opening piece in the show, called "Tech-nical Difficulties." The piece casts light on the behind-the-scenes antics, dialogue and seat-of-their-pants problem solving situations that go on backstage during theatrical productions.

The one dramatic piece is "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury. It is set in 1928, in a small town where a serial killer is strangling women who are out by themselves. Shortly after finding a body, one woman makes the ill-fated decision to walk home alone.


From left, Sharon Miller, Josh Ball, Rita Knorr and Ramona Baker experiece "Technical Difficulties" in their reader's theater piece.

Photo by Jenny Neyman

Ken Bradbury, the lesser-known and less-serious brother of Ray Bradbury, is the author of another piece performed in the show, called "Open To Interpretation."

In this comedic piece, the classic story of Hansel and Gretel is retold in several different literary styles, including soap opera, Shakespearean and vaudeville.

Performing these reader's theaters for an audience in "Encore! Encore!" is a trial run for the DDF actors.

"These pieces will go on into competition, some of which we believe are going to be state medal pieces," Rizzo said.

"We were looking for two kinds of reader's theaters that do well in competition -- ones that are funny, and ones that tell a story, but are more than just narration. ... I think there's something for everybody in this array of pieces."

Beginning this month, team members will perform these same pieces for judges in DDF competitions. The money raised from "Encore! Encore!" will go to fund the team's travel expenses and other costs incurred during the season.

Many of the actors involved in the show are just getting their feet wet in DDF this year.

"It's a really young team this year," Rizzo said. "It's kind of fun. We're kind of starting over. We graduated a lot of seniors last year. This is going to be a very terrific group. They're a very talented group of kids."

Laura Rooper, a freshmen, is one of the team's new recruits.

"It sounded like a lot of fun," she said. "It's a way to improve your speaking skills in front of a group."


From left, Josh Ball and J.R. Cox perform at a rehearsal of "Encore! Encore!"

Photo by Jenny Neyman

The show is expected to last roughly one hour and 20 minutes.

"It won't take up too much time out of your life and it will give you a lot back," said Tatiana Butler, a freshmen DDF member. "...It's going to be great. A lot of work has been put into this so far."

Tickets for the show are $5 and are available at the door.

"I think they're very prepared for this show," Rizzo said. "I think the audience will have a really good time."

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