The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie (March 1991)
Mrs. Brant's first play at ZHS! With the intrepid group of less than 10 in the Drama Club, we waited until March to mount our first production.
"A group of strangers is stranded in a boarding house during a snow storm, one of whom is a murderer. The suspects include the newly married couple who run the house, and the suspicions that are in their minds nearly wreck their perfect marriage. Others are a spinster with a curious background, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef, a retired Army major, a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift, and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone. Into their midst comes a policeman, traveling on skis. He no sooner arrives, than the jurist is killed. Two down, and one to go. To get to the rationale of the murderer's pattern, the policeman probes the background of everyone present, and rattles a lot of skeletons. Another famous Agatha Christie switch finish! Chalk up another superb intrigue for the foremost mystery writer of her time." (licensed through Samuel French (www.samuelfrench.com))
The Worst High School Play in the World by William Gleason (May 1991)
The Drama Club grew after their first outing, performing this farce based on the life of Ivanhoe, and featuring everyone from cast from the March play to heavyweight wrestlers in cameo parts!
"This play begins in the year 1243 A.D. and all is not well in the land of Saxonia. Darkness and discontent hang thick in the air like sausages in a smokehouse. The reasonably handsome King Isadore is off to the Crusades to smite heathens and purchase porcelain. In his place, his creep brother Prince Viscera brings sorrow and fear to every hearth and leaves them sitting on the front porch like two quarts of spoiled milk. There is also joy in Saxonia, for Isadore has not only left town but he has also left a son. The boy's name is Ivanha and this is his story. It is a story of love and revenge. More than that, it is the worst plot you've ever seen on a stage! Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear when men were men, women were women... and squirrels were squirrels!" (licensed through Dramatic Publishing (www.dramaticpublishing.com))
Three Murders and Its Only Monday! by Pat Cook (Fall, 1991)
The next year we were back at it again, and gaining more members. A large group of freshmen joined our ranks--one that would become the first of many influential groups to stick with drama for all four years of their high school experience. We did a hilarious detective/murder mystery to start off the year.
""It was the kind of night when you caught yourself holding your breath for no reason at all." So says private eye Harry Monday as he investigates three murders at the Peaceful Pines Sanitarium. Even the police are getting tired of coming out and ask Doctor Morrissey if he could just phone in the details. Then when Tara, a sultry soon-to-be-heiress, shows up, Harry puts his best foot forward... right in his mouth. "Odd how relatives always head up a suspect list," he notes as the deceased's families arrive. Odder still when he finds out they all belong to the same family! Harry finds it tough going when he tries to determine who killed an old sea captain, a ventriloquist and a tramp. What did these three have in common? And why would lawyer Lilly Dramkean get involved in shady legalities? Or Larramore take a night off on the date when the murders took place? And how come no one can ever keep track of socialite Mary Tobias, "One of those dames from Who's Who who don't know what's what," Harry says. Throw in an Indian, a Swedish gardener and a disgruntled nurse and the confusion multiplies. This lightning-paced comedy/mystery comes complete with its own lightning as a storm blows out all the fuses...and the murders keep coming! In this spoof on the old-style private-eye movies, the laughs are fast and furious... and the ending will simply kill you!" (Licensed through Dramatic Publishing www.dramaticpublishing.com)
This play was followed by the chance to take over for the Lion's Club and run the Haunted House in a old residence downtown for Halloween. We had fun dressing up as horror characters and earned some money for several years doing this.
March, 1992: The Phantom of the Opera by Gene Traylor (non-musical version)
The spring found the Drama Club venturing into a more serious play with this non musical version of the famous story by Gaston Leroux. We gained several more long standing actors and techies during this show, which included blank gun shots, fake blood and a very sweaty, masked Phantom! When the smaller blank pistol broke, we borrowed the track team's 357 starting pistol--and along with the flash that came from the barrel, we almost made the entire front row jump out of their seats! Hmmmm...
"In this great tongue-in-cheek comedy/thriller, The Phantom of the Opera returns, guaranteed to terrify and delight even the boldest member of your audience. This adaptation of the classic remains quite faithful to the original text, in which a series of bizarre murders plagues the Paris Opera House. In the midst of frantic attempts to prepare for the gala opening of a brilliant, ambitious new work, the frightened protagonists must prevent the evil phantom from striking again. Will the beautiful and talented Christine be spared a horrible murder at the hands of the elusive phantom? Will her handsome fiance discover his hiding place before it's too late? Enjoy this show and see for yourself if you dare!" (licensed through Dramatic Publishing (www.dramaticpublishing.com))
Fall, 1992: Bone Chiller by Monk Ferris
With a growing group and a continuing like for murder mysteries, we performed this convoluted rebus filled murder mystery that featured one of our normally demure female actresses ending the show by "shooting" the audience because they knew too much!
"Thirteen people gather on Friday the 13th at the Travers mansion in New York for the reading of Josiah's will, which is a wall chart rendered in the form of a rebus (a part word, part drawing puzzle) that almost defies solution. Instead of designating an heir, it offers the estate to anyone who can solve the will! The lights keep going out and people keep getting murdered. The audience will have a ball trying to untangle the puzzle faster than the hapless characters. By the final act, revelations are exploding as surprise piles upon surprise." (licensed through Samuel French www.samuelfrench.com)
Spring, 1993: You Can't Take it With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
For our next play, we finally were big enough to perform a play that Mrs. Brant had done in college, where she did the set design and played a Russian Grand Duchess.
"At first the Sycamores seem mad, but it is not long before we realize that if they are mad, the rest of the world is madder. In contrast to these delightful people are the unhappy Kirbys. The plot shows how Tony, attractive young son of the Kirbys, falls in love with Alice Sycamore and brings his parents to dine at the Sycamore home on the wrong evening. The shock sustained by the Kirbys, who are invited to eat cheap food, shows Alice that marriage with Tony is out of the question. The Sycamores, however, though sympathetic to Alice, find it hard to realize her point of view. Meantime, Tony, who knows the Sycamores are right and his own people wrong, will not give her up, and in the end Mr. Kirby is converted to the happy madness of the Sycamores, particularly since he happens in during a visit by an ex-Grand Duchess, earning her living as a waitress. No mention has as yet been made of the strange activities of certain members of the household engaged in the manufacture of fireworks; nor of the printing press set up in the parlor; nor of Rheba the maid and her friend Donald; nor of Grandpa's interview with the tax collector when he tells him he doesn't believe in the income tax." (licensed through Dramatist's Play Service www.dramatists.com)
We also attended a drama festival in Spokane called INTAF.
With a larger, more established group, we were able to look at ways to formalize our group. A strong leadership group chose the name Z Center Stage Theater Company as their first step! Auditions got tougher and we grew with more dedicated actors and techies! We also purchased some sound and light equipment, adding to what we could do.
Fall, 1993: Happily Ever Once Upon by Virginia Kidd
The first play of the year was a spoof on about every fairy tale you can think of, including Cinderella, Prince Charming and a royal advisor with a swan's wing.
"After twenty years of marriage, Cinderella and Prince Charming have some problems: the Enchanted Kingdom teeters on the brink of bankruptcy. Cinderella's fairy godmother is blackmailing her, the Prince's adviser has one arm and one swan's wing and an unfortunate habit of breaking everything he encounters, and Red Riding Hood has set her cap for the Prince. Though hoping Rumplestilskin can spin gold from straw, the Prince fears he may have to make the Enchanted Kingdom a tourist attraction. Cinderella resolves their difficulties by confronting her godmother and opening the Kingdom to writers who promise them royalties from their stories." (licensed by Samuel French www.samuelfrench.com)
Spring, 1994: Les Miserables (non musical) by Tim Kelly
Mostly because Mrs. Brant saw the big name musical and loved it and because we hadn't really done any musicals yet, we did this non musical version of the classic tale.
"Les Misérables, one of the world's greatest literary classics, sold out its first edition the day it went on sale in 1862. Since then, it has never been out of print. It has been filmed countless times and is currently the subject of a smash-hit international pop opera. Our gripping new version has been designed for very simple production (basically a few tables, chairs, and a bench). Under two hours in length, it is the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his relentless pursuit by "law and order" police inspector Javert. Filled with fascinating vignettes of 19th-century France, the script boasts a brilliant cast of characters who weave an exciting tapestry of humankind at its best and worst. Special emphasis has been placed on the many small roles and female characters—the tragic Fantine and her daughter Cosette, the wretched Madame Thenardier, the lovelorn Eponine—among others." (licensed by Dramatic Publishing www.dramaticpublishing.com)