Margaret L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books as a kid, so I was looking forward to attending one of the performances offered by the MCHS Drama Department November 16- 18. Director Kate Griffin and her students always produce quality performances and this one didn’t disappoint.

The story is billed as “children’s science fiction,” so I was delighted to recognize a young friend in the audience and sat with her. Lilly Volpe is in the fourth grade. She had heard about the play and convinced her Grandmother, Barb Volpe to come along. “I haven’t read the book yet,” said Lilly, “but I think I will after I see the play. If it’s any good.” (Lilly is a practical young lady!)

As Act 1 ended, Lilly gasped, “They can’t just end it like that!” An evil creature had just threatened the characters and the stage went dark. She was very into the play and relieved when she learned it was only intermission.

During intermission I spoke with the girls handling the sound board. Lexi Menig is a Senior who has been working on the sound board since she was a Freshman. Now, as she nears graduation, she has taken on an assistant to train in the many aspects of providing background music and controlling volume for all the voices in a play. Freshman Kim Zarate is enjoying working on her first play and hopes to stay with the job.

The staging for this production is interesting because nearly all the actors play “readers,” who not only narrate the story but join in on the action by playing the various characters within the story. I wondered how a child would understand this staging device, so I checked with Lilly. “I like how they were reading the story and then they became part of it,” she said. I liked it, too. Judging from the applause and the comments after the play, everyone else did as well.

I noticed something about the MCHS Play experience. These plays have become part of the entertainment for lots of Marengo’s citizens. I’ve been to many a high school play where the audience is made up largely of the cast’s relatives and some fellow students. While these groups were certainly present at this performance, my informal poll of the audience turned up more people with no special connection to any cast members, but an expectation, based on past experience, of a good story presented well. Lilly was drawn to the story; her grandmother knew they would have an entertaining evening.

“I’m glad I saw it,” Lilly assured me. “I’m going to read the book now. It has a good message.” When asked what that message is, she answered without hesitation, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself.” Put the MCHS Spring Musical dates on your calendar. It’s going to be a good one: Godspell, coming March 8-10, 2018.

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