Rehearsal of fortune

'Curious Savage' explores depths of greed, benevolence

Moffat County High School drama students got a six-week break from five-night-a-week practices, but now they're back to eating dinner in the auditorium as they practice being someone they're not.

Practice started last week for the high school's spring play: "The Curious Savage."

It will take students seven weeks to learn their lines, practice their moves and create characters the audience will love.

By the time the community sees the final version, more than 100 hours of work will have gone into it.

In the world of professional theater, actors would spend about six weeks preparing. At the high school level, they get a bit more time.

"For me, I find it's more successful if I give them one more week," drama teacher and play director Amy Coleman said. "It's amazing what one more week can do."

Within two weeks of starting, students will have memorized the lines from Act 1 and are starting to choreograph their movements.

"They've got to get used to being near each other and around each other," Coleman said.

All but two of Coleman's cast members are experience actors, who have been in high school plays before.

"It's a real advanced cast," she said. "Plus, they're all friends. They like each other and enjoy being at practice."

"The Curious Savage," by John Patrick, is a story about Mrs. Ethel Savage, a slightly eccentric, extremely wealthy widow. Being the recipient of her deceased husband's estate, she wants to make the best use of it, despite her greedy stepchildren's selfish attempts to get their hands on it. Mrs. Savage, however, has put her wealth into negotiable bonds in the hopes of establishing a fund to help others realize their hopes and dreams, much to the siblings' chagrin. They then commit her to a "sanitorium" in the hopes of shocking her to her senses. There, she meets a variety of social misfits, all needing exactly the kind of help Mrs. Savage can provide and who eventually appear more sane than those outside the walls of the institution.

It presents a unique opportunity for the teens to play a humorous part without making it comedy.

"We've talked a lot about these mentally ill people," Coleman said. "I've told them that even though they're doing funny stuff, kids shouldn't play it for laughs. It defeats the heart of the play because in the end you really care about these characters."

Coleman chose the play for several reasons. It has several female parts, and like many drama programs, Moffat County's generally has more young women trying for parts than men. Also, most parts are equal in importance and number of lines, giving the senior actors all a chance to shine.

"I feel that's a little reward they're all due," Coleman said. "It's rare to be able to do a play with that kind of balance."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.