WDC to present musical, 'Don't Stop Believin' '
The Wadena-Deer Creek Drama Department will present an energetic, contemporary musical, “Don’t Stop Believin’!” on Nov. 14, 15 and 16 on the stage of the historic Wadena Memorial Auditorium. Performance time is 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Tickets are available at the door or from students in the play.
The play is set at Ethel Lampert Community Center. Unfortunately, the center has seen better days and may soon see its final days unless teens, volunteers and staff find a way to save it. Wadena-Deer Creek High School Drama Director Jay Patterson said he chose this play because of the strong message it gives to kids.
“The last signature song of the play says, ‘Don’t stop believin’ in yourself.’ This positive theme runs throughout this play. Students need this added to their world view. It needs to be embedded there,” Patterson said.
The play is on the order of “Glee Club” and has strong teenage characters that are on the fringe.
“They are troubled teenagers who find respite in coming to the Ethel Lampert Community Center. Of course, the continuing existence of this center and all the good it does is at risk because some ‘developers’ want to tear it down and build shops and parking lots,” Patterson explained.
When they hear of a new television reality contest for glee clubs, they decide to form their own and try out. If they win top prize, they’ll earn enough money to keep the center open.
Thirty-four students in grades 7-12 are involved in the all-school production, from acting to technical support. Patterson provided the following play cast, along with a short character description:
Nora Truitt (A high school senior with a rough past): Samantha Kirkland
Angel Brown (Another senior, Nora’s friend): Katelyn Windels
Preston (A leader of the athletes): David Wegscheid
Todd (He tries to do his best): James Anderson
Ella (A spunky teen who loves basketball): Hope Norenberg
Sky (Another spunky teen): Cheyenne Houts
Alice (She finishes Ella’s sentences): Sandra Kucharccyk
Sammi (An amazing artist): Maize Miller
Maria (Another amazing artist): Sarah DeCock
Ron (Make that three amazing artists): Alex Lorentz
Kitty (She’s a little bit blonde but knows her computer): Alyssa Gilster
Mike (Tries to live with Kitty, it’s hard): Derek Garcia
Bubba (Tough guy who likes to fight): Adam Leverson
Spike (Bubba’s right-hand man who isn’t too bright either): Aaron Beck
Cammy (Loves the bad boys): Anissa Mench
Joey (He’s lost and scared): Mitchel Haman
Brady Fisher (A rich college kid volunteer): Isaac Berger
Aleta Lampert (Head of the Community Center): Marie Hunt
Coral Dahl (A lively assistant to Aleta): Hope Dumpprope
Jake Crumbly (A very greedy city council member; he’s bad): Michael Small
Iola Strickles (Another very greedy city council member; she’s worse): AJ Tollefson
Lee Mitchell (A caring city council member who loves the teens): Caleb Monson
Desiree Flambeau (Complaining, whinny neighbor; her dog doesn’t even like her): Beth Schmitz
Jen Harper (Producer of “We’ve Got Talent”): Hannah Wedde
Paul Abbot (A very famous judge of “We’ve Got Talent”): Jordan Geiser
Simone Growl (Another judge for “We’ve Got Talent” really stuck on herself): Grace Mertens
Polly Pickums (A very wealthy lady who takes a sincere interest in the center): Taylor Dirks
Technical Crew: Tabetha Baker, Sound Technician; Anna Kraemer, Light Technician; and Stage Crew: DarylAnn Webb, Kylie Lupkes, Anandita Devitarianti, Fitri Nurandianti and Hailey Holm.
There is an audition process for parts in the musical and each year, Patterson draws a huge number of students to auditions.
“The response was heartwarming again,” Patterson said of auditions. “These drama rats love to be with each other and they love the theater and they love to perform. I really have some very strong students who have developed into incredible communicators. I sit back and watch and I am amazed.”
Patterson has directed plays since the late 1970s and continues to immerse himself in theater each school year because, as he puts it, “it is a passion of mine.” While he admits to being tough on kids at times during rehearsals, he says his style is to challenge students so they grow and flourish on the stage.
“I challenge them big time and they want that. They know what I am trying to do for them as a group and as individuals. I love to see them grow,” Patterson added.
WDC senior and theater veteran AJ Tollefson will serve as the musical’s student director. Last year, Tollefson portrayed Emily Dickinson in the one-act play written by Patterson, “The Humorist of Forrest Leaves.” The play earned WDC and Patterson their 10th appearance at the State One-Act Festival. Tollefson plans to be an English teacher and drama director.
“I have much confidence in her [as student director]. She will garner the respect of the cast as well,” Patterson said.
The public is encouraged to see these young, talented thespians perform at Wadena Memorial Auditorium on Nov. 14, 15 and 16.