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One Acts

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HNS cast, crew looking for return trip to State

HARTINGTON — Reece Morten has one thing on his mind: bringing home the state championship title for the Hartington-Newcastle one-act play.

“We all have the same goal in min which is to win,” said the Hartington-Newcastle senior in his fourth year of play production. “I think this team can do what this program has done in the past and that’s bring home a stat championship.”

After winning state championship honors for eight of the last nine years the 48 actors and eight crew member are looking for a repeat victory this year.

The school narrowly missed that high mark last year, but still came away with a win at conference and the runner-up honor in district competition.

Junior Lane Heimes said this year the team is back and better than ever.

“We have a lot of motivation from the disappointing ending in our season last year,” he said. “I expect our one-act team to be back at state this year.”

This year’s selection “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, zeros in on the story of a Roman slave who will do anything to win his freedom and comedy ensues related to mistaken identity.

“The play we are doing fits our cast better than any other play would and I believe we can make it our own,” Morten said.

Heimes said he plays a character named Hero - a handsome young man who is madly in love with a young lady named Philia.

“I think the audience will really like the play because it has a lot of funny dumb moments and scenes,” he said. “Everyone loves to laugh and we usually make that happen.”

A.J. Johnson, who coaches the one-act alongside Linda Kathol and Lindsay Stappert, is looking forward to a larger audience this year as COVID-19 restrictions on attendance have been lifted.

And the hope is to leave audience members in stitches.

“We’re working really hard on getting our comic timing down,” Johnson said. “This has the potential to be one of the funniest plays we’ve done.”

Johnson said the coaches are having almost as much fun as the students and he’s proud of the hard work put in so far.

“They are extremely motivated. Practices have a high energy level and the kids are focused. That makes practice a great place to be,” Johnson said, adding that they’ve been at it since mid-September with practices scheduled in the evenings to avoid other activities.

In his 15 years of coaching the one-act, Johnson has learned to relish practice over performance.

“I love watching those moments when kids get it and find a new level in their performance,” he said. “For magic to happen on stage, it has to happen in practice first. When you see kids have those moments in practice, there is no better feeling.”

While the motivation is for another state win, Johnson tells the actors and crew that the only thing within their control is the amount of effort put in each day.

“You can’t control how good the opponents are. You can’t control how the audience reacts and you can’t control how the judges evaluate you. We practice to put on the best performance we can each time we perform, to learn and grow as the season goes on, and to reach our potential,” Johnson said. “If we do that, we will be competitive.”

Hartington-Newcastle’s one-act public performances have been set for:

- 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Wynot for conference competition.

- Time to be determined, Saturday, Nov. 20, at David City.

- 1:15 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Wisner for district competition.

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