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Curtain rises on One Act play season

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HNS troupe had to replace a lot of experienced actors

HARTINGTON — A.J. Johnson has been a part of the fabric of one-act plays in Northeast Nebraska for quite some time, now.

HJohnson, who leads the Hartington-Newcastle team, enters his 15th year in charge of the Wildcats, who captured the Class C2 state championship a year ago and return with high hopes of doing it again.

HThey will enter this year’s fray by attacking the material of Cole Porter, Samuel Spewak and Bella Spewak who teamed up to give us “Kiss Me Kate.”

H“I think this play really fits our kids,” Johnson said. “It is a comedy that has several strong parts. I think it’s got a lot of chances for physical comedy and we are working on that.”

HJohnson said this year’s cast features a lot of new actors.

H“We have a lot of new faces in lead roles this year. Inexperience is probably our biggest weakness, but we have a very talented group,” he said. “As they continue to become comfortable with leading the play, they will do better and better.”

Johnson doesn’t indicate how high or how far he expects his team to perform by season’s end, but noted that, “as always, I expect us to do the best we can. I expect us to do our best every performance and to learn from the judges.”

It hasn’t been easy in an age of a worldwide pandemic.

“Wearing masks at practice is a challenge, but it’s what we’ve got to do,” Johnson said.

Senior Isaac Bruning is one of the returning members of last year’s champs and he believes this group can be as dynamic and successful even in the age of a pandemic.

“We’re doing pretty well this year even though it’s been a little harder because of the pandemic,” he said. “We are finding ways to work through it. We have a lot of young people and we have to teach them, but overall, it’s going pretty well this year.”

Bruning said the team started working on its act about a month ago.

“We are pretty behind,” Bruning said. “You just got to work harder during practice, listen better and try to go through the process faster than usual. We pretty much separated throughout the gym. You can’t get together like a normal practice.

“We know that other teams are going through the same things, so we just have to work harder than they do.”

Bruning said the program’s pedigree for winning and hard work carries a lot of weight and a lot of the Wildcats success is born in practice.

“We have less practices than other teams, but it matters more how hard you are practicing when you do,” he said.