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Cortez Middle School theater program to host play ‘Curtains’ in March

“Curtains” cast and crew. (Angela Gabardi/Courtesy photo)
The performances will take place the first weekend of March

On March 1 and 2, the Montezuma-Cortez Middle School theater program will perform “Curtains,” a fast-paced comedy that promises to entertain all who attend.

The performance will take place at the main gym in the middle school. The Friday, March 1 performance will take place at 7 p.m., and there will be 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. time slots on Saturday, March 2.

The play was written by Craig Sodaro, and is being used with permission from the Pioneer Drama Service.

According to theater program director and teacher Angela Gabardi, auditions and “creative circles” took place right before Christmas break.

Charlie Leach (Preston Tanner) is confronted by the Flowers – Katy Meek, Kanyin Palmer, Afton Nielson and Macie McDonald. Angela Gabardi/Courtesy photo)

“So about two weeks before Christmas break, we did auditions, and then we did our read-through,” Gabardi said. “After that, we talked a little bit about the ideas we wanted to see with the show. We call them our creative circles. Those just give everybody a chance to share ideas.”

The slapstick-style show follows the newly married couple Cheri and Charlie Leach, played by Addalynn Nielson and Preston Tanner, as they are being chased by Tony Tenor, played by Oliver Owens, and his accomplices the Flowers, played by Katy Meeks, Kanyin Palmer, Afton Nielson and Macie McDonald.

To get Tony Tenor off his back, Charlie Leach needs to pay Tony $50,000. He comes up with a plan to buy an old theater with his and his new wife’s honeymoon money. With his friend Professor Quirk, played by Costner Hernandez, they plan to blow up the theater and collect the insurance money.

Preston Tanner (left), who plays Charlie Leach, with Addalynn Nielson (Cheri Leach) and Assistant Director Grace Noyes. (Angela Gabardi/Courtesy photo)

Before they can implement their grand scheme, a troupe led by Cheri Leach’s aunt Isabella, played by Aubriana Trujillo, arrives at the theater to produce the show “Frankenstein,” which stars the only male in the all-female troupe cast, Mr. Krook, played by Logan Tamminga.

“Everything goes wrong, thus creating a fast-paced, hilarious, slapstick-style adventure, including a ghost and a very enthusiastic theater critic (Landon Hurst),” Gabardi said.

During the audition process, Gabardi, who has been leading the program for 10 years, said she looked for students who could be bold, goofy, make creative choices and accept feedback.

“Curtains” sound crew Isabel Caciagli, Aspen Head, and Steven Flye. (Angela Gabardi/Courtesy photo)

“We looked for students who are willing to be goofy and make big choices, as well as test how kids take direction, because it's really important in a show like this to make sure that even when you're making big choices, you can also take feedback,” Gabardi said.

They also tested student chemistry with each other, specifically for the “married” couple and the troupe.

“We were also doing little chemistry tests, which are not like you know, super-romantic because we're in middle school, but how people react with each other on stage, how they communicate on stage and kind of just seeing who can make choices together as well,” Gabardi added.

Students performing in the play emphasized how play has brought all of them closer together as friends and even family.

Hernandez, who is in eighth grade, said, “My favorite thing about the show so far is everyone making new friends,” said eighth grader Hernandez. “I have been watching, and I have noticed that some of the people who didn't ‘fit in’ as much as the rest soon found their group and their family.”

“I think the show is about how love can survive through almost anything just as long as both people are willing to work for it. The audience is going to like it because of all the comedy,” said Charlie Bragg, who plays Angela Angel. “My favorite part of this show is rehearsing and getting to make all of these inside jokes with my new theater friends. I am very excited for the Frankenstein laboratory table.”

Students also emphasized that the audience will enjoy a fun show.

Sixth grader Palmer, who plays Tulip, said, “I think the audience will enjoy the show, because of how funny it is, and just the show in total. It has many fun elements to it, that I think the audience will love to see in action. My favorite thing about this show is probably how funny it is. It makes me laugh out loud.”

Addalynn Nielson said that the play “has it all.”

“The play has it all: romance, a haunted theater, Frankenstein, money, gangsters and comedy,” she said.

Lisandro Viveros Wells, eighth grade production photographer, spoke of the unique and fun props.

“I am most excited for the costumes and props because I want to see how everyone will look and how they are going to use their props,” Wells said.

Gabardi said the theater program will move their rehearsals and preparations to the main gym on Feb. 24.

“We are building our own stage with a proscenium arch curtain. The students will have a week in the actual space before we open the doors to the community,” she said.

More than 70 students are involved, with student actors and a crew that consists of props, sets, set dressing, costumes, hair, makeup, lights, sound, house team, stage management, photographer, assistant tech director and assistant director.

“They're pretty awesome. We have amazing kids throughout the whole community, but our performing arts kids, band, choir, theater, there's some rock star kids, so I'm glad we can give them these opportunities,” Gabardi said. “They get really invested in what they do, and they treat it like a little family. There's fights, there's love, there's laughter, but then you have these awesome teenagers coming together to put it all together to make a show. So it's pretty cool just to watch their journey.”

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at mchsdrama.booktix.com.