The Blytheville High School Drama Club’s production of “Hairspray” was truly meaningful to the school in that it showed general supporters that the Drama Club indeed does exist and performs quality plays for the public. It also resulted in more club membership, the addition of students for the opening and closing ceremonies at The Orpheum and an increased number of students vying for roles in upcoming plays.
The club members’ portrayal of “Hairspray” was strong enough for nomination for Outstanding Small Ensemble in a local chapter, and three students - Madison Groves, Alyicia Osagie and Maddie Hixson - were invited to be in both The Orpheum’s opening and closing ceremonies for the High School Musical Theater Awards
This school year the Drama Club will perform three plays, starting with “Tracks” by Peter Tarsi. According to Ferrell, “Tracks” revolves around a large number of persons meeting to board a subway. Eventually, every person discovers that he or she has died and that the subway is bound for one of two locations - Heaven or Hell. Each person then has to decide on what subway they’re bound based on how he or she has lived his or her life.
The one-night-only performance will be Wednesday, Sept. 28 at the BHS Auditorium at 6 p.m., and tickets are three dollars each. Club members will perform “Tracks” in Jonesboro on Sept. 29 as part of the Arkansas Thespians’ one-act competition. If that performance is acceptable, the students will be asked to perform Feb. 9-11 in the Arkansas State Thespian Festival, and then possibly to the national competition next June.
“Chickasaw Revue” will be the drama club members’ next performance. It will be a collection of any students’ theater work that he or she wants to present. “Revue” will also include student-directed 10-minute plays, and it will be in the auditorium Nov. 10-12, each evening at 6 p.m. Tickets are five dollars each.
Ferrell said he also hopes for the Drama Club students to perform “Lucky Stiff” next semester, but he hasn’t yet received the rights for the club to produce it. According to Ferrell, “Lucky Stiff” centers around a man who has just inherited six million dollars from his uncle. However, his uncle also left a lengthy list of demands in his will that the man must obey to receive the money, including taking his uncle's recently embalmed body, to Monte Carlo to have the adventure of his “afterlife.”
According to Ferrell, the Drama Club consists of 60 students, with 55 students in theater classes. The club is for any student who wants to be involved with performances, whether on stage or as part of crew management. He also said that interest in the Drama Club has tripled since “Hairspray.” “Our club has received a lot of attention from the community, including teachers at both the high school and Arkansas Northeastern College,” he stated. “I’m very grateful for this attention, as all our members are, but it’s also important that we keep building on what we’ve accomplished and not become satisfied with past accomplishments.”
When asked, Ferrell said that once he tells his Drama Club students what plays they will be performing, he allows each of them to decide what roles they will try to earn. “The last thing I would want to do is ‘pigeonhole’ my students, trying to create a good play based on who I believe should have a certain role before auditions,” Ferrell added. “I want the show to succeed or fail based on the roles the students actually have.”