POINT PLEASANT — Though Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School (PPJ/SHS) students were released early from school this Thursday, the drama students still returned for their play practice as time is growing near for their spring show.
The students will be presenting “A Lighter Shade of Noir” for three days of performances in the Wedge Auditorium at PPJ/SHS, beginning on Thursday, April 25 from 6-8 p.m. This performance will be a private performance for the PATCH parents who helped fund the play this year, admission will be free. On Friday, April 26, the students will perform for the high school classes in the morning and in the afternoon will perform for the junior high classes. On Saturday, April 27, the performance will be open for the public. Cost of admission is $5 per person and the show will begin at 7 p.m.
For each year’s performance, Jeff Wittman, former PPJ/SHS theater teacher and current theater director, will let the seniors choose the play as well as the direct the play. This year, Kayle Burris is the student director and she chose “A Lighter Shade of Noir” as she is a fan of detective stories.
Wittman shared “A Lighter Shade of Noir” is based in the 1920’s and is a hilarious knockoff of the classic detective tales. The title characters reflect well-known detective characters such as Trent Trowel is styled after Sam Spade, Tracy Dyck is styled after Dick Tracy, Maureen Artee is styled after Professor James Moriarty, and Shirley Holmes is the daughter of Sherlock Holmes who has a companion named Reginald Watson. Everything that takes place in the play is taken from the detective classics, but with its own spin.
Cast Member Eli Burris who is portraying Trent Trowel will be demonstrating vocal deviations in his performance. As with the classic detective character trait, internal monologues happen from time to time and Eli will have one special voice for this instance and then a separate voice as his regular speaking voice.
Wittman commented his students have collaborated with Maurice Alouf’s art class to make the scenery.
“I’m so blessed to be able to work with these kids…they do anything you ask them to do,” said Wittman. “This is something these kids have latched onto because these are the kids who don’t play football, they don’t play baseball, they don’t have sports. They’re not into sports, but this gives them something to do.”
He commented when he first started this program at PPJ/SHS he only had five students, but two years later he now has 47. Wittman is also the director of theater operations for the French Art Colony in Gallipolis, Ohio and has been acting and directing for about 40 years. At an upcoming Mason County Board of Education meeting Wittman will be asking the board members if he could open the drama club up to all Mason County students rather than just PPJ/SHS students. Though the drama club has one Beale Elementary student participating in this year’s play, Wittman wants to continue expanding the program.
Wittman has students from the past and the present who have showed a lot of passion in the theater. He shared one of his students last year LeeAnn Anderson received a scholarship for the play she wrote and directed last year #TheaterKids and is currently attending American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) college in New York City and studying acting. Also, one of his students this year Kendra Williams is planning on studying theater at Marshall University this fall.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.