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What: “Wild Oats”
Who: El Dorado High School drama department
Where: The Black Box Theater, El Dorado High School, 561 Canal St. in Placerville
When: Feb.7-9 and 14-16 at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $8 for students and $10 for adults at The Bookery, 326 Main St. in Placerville or at the door
Information: Online at Studio81.org
Romance, mistaken identity, the Wild West and plenty of laughs are the perfect combination for a winter play that comes to El Dorado High School just in time for Valentine’s Day.
With a cast of characters that includes a kilted Indian chief, a lady sheriff — complete with moustache — and bandits, as well as Shakespearian actors, “Wild Oats,” is sure to grab your attention and your funny bone.
The play within a play is a modern adaptation of a comedic play from 1791. Student director Thaden Salstrand pitched the play to the selection board after he read the script.
“I laughed hysterically on every page,” said Salstrand, “so I had to do this play.” Salstrand, a senior, has been in drama for four years and involved in six plays.
His grandfather is helping to build the sets which are challenging.
“The play is fast-paced with many set changes, including a train — so many ideas and too little time in such a small space, but it’s all coming together now,” Salstrand said.
Playing the lead role of Jack Rover, the wanna-be actor who assumes the identity of a wealthy friend in order to win the hand of Kate Thunder, is Ian Janoska. The 17-year-old senior is a first-time actor who has never been in a play or taken drama classes.
“I thought, ‘why not?’,” said Janoska. ” I’d been in sports and I’m still in sports, but it sounded like fun. I never expected to get the lead.”
Natalee Eggen, a 16-year-old junior, is Kate Thunder, the object of Jack’s affections.
“I’ve been doing performing arts since I was 6 — mostly musicals. I really like the accents in this play — Mexican, Irish, western and East Coast upper class — and my character is really over the top so I can let myself out as well,” Eggen said.
Eggen plans to continue her drama career in college and go on to Broadway.
Playing the bombastic Colonel Thunder is drama veteran Nick Nicodemus. The 18-year-old senior has been in six plays in his high school career and, like Eggen, has plans to continue performing in college with an eye to musical theater.
“Colonel Thunder has lots of energy. He is bold and cares about his own opinions. He’s also very handsome, kind, smart …”
Nicodemus said he enjoys the asides he gets to slip in and the jokes that come into play in his interaction with Kate and Jack.
“I also like the part where I get to hit my sidekick over the head with my cane,” Nicodemus said.
Salstrand said the romantic comedy is a farce with big Western themes.
“Everyone in the play believes something different about who people are, so pay attention to the names and who the characters are pretending to be,” Salstrand said.
Drama teacher Paul Tomei said he tries to alternate the types of plays offered during the year.
“We just finished the ‘Rimers of Eldritch,’ a drama, and we have ‘Cats’ coming up, so this is a good old-fashioned western comedy. It’s fun for the whole family.
“The fall play is limited to people who have been in drama, but for the winter play, I open it up to people who have never been in a play and that expands the audition pool,” said Tomei. “We have a big cast, but Thaden is really taking ownership of the play and he’s doing everything on his own. He’s a great leader and the actors respect him.”
Cyndy Morrison and Terri Thomas, drama moms and costume designers, have gathered, borrowed and created a wealth of period costumes to represent the diverse cast — from wealthy socialites to Mexican banditos to military uniforms and kilts.
The cast includes: Corporal Crow (Andrew Jenkins), Ephraim Smooth (Alex Alvarez), Harry Thunder (Jonathan Rutz), Muz (Nick Magnuson), Ike Gammon (Cameron Miller), Jane Gammon (Camille Woicekowski), Sim Gammon (Caleb Morris), Senor Morales (Evan Lucero), Mr. Leako (Aleks Jonsson), Mr. Kliegle (Jackson Harris), Amelia Morales (Christiana Rutz), Wilson (Thoren Jorgensen), Liberty (Hunter Schwenk), Angel Eyes (Mackenzie Harrell), Piano Player (Logan Thomas), Bartender (Adam Ainsworth), Innkeeper’s Daughter (Taylor Gear), Sheriff/Marshall (Elizabeth Vaccaro).
The crew is: Thaden Salstrand, director; Randy Copeman, Thaden Salstrand, set designers; Justin Clare, Tyler Land, lighting designers; Sami Jumper, backstage manager and Becky Lucero, publicity.
“Wild Oats” opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb.7 at the Black Box Theater at El Dorado High School, 561 Canal St. in Placerville. It runs Feb. 7 to 9 and Feb. 14 to 16 . Tickets are available at $8 for students and $10 for adults at The Bookery, 326 Main St. in Placerville, at the door, or online at Studio81.org.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @WSchultzMtDemo.