Chatfield drama students bringing some humor to stage

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chatfield High School drama students read the script for their upcoming spring production to be held at Potter Auditorium.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

A funny thing happened last night on the way through the hotel Punch Line…

“We’re doing the play ‘The Punch Line’ by Michael Soetaert, and I chose this play because, first, I needed to look for shows with large casts because we have 24 kids performing this year. Second, I wanted something fun and funny, and this show has a lot of wild stuff going on,” stated Chatfield High School spring play director Rachel Schieffelbein, highlighting the play she chose for her students to perform the end of this month on Potter Auditorium’s stage.

“I did another play by this playwright several years ago, and we all really enjoyed his sense of humor. It’s a bit goofy and over the top, but in a smart way. It definitely makes me laugh,” Schieffelbein added.

A synopsis of the play reads, “Each year for the past 17 years, on this very night, the Hawthorne Hotel has been visited by four ghosts, ghosts who cannot rest until somebody comes up with the punch line to a joke that has yet to be written. But tonight promises to be different, because tonight Inspector Chromium is determined to rid the hotel once and for all of these sporadic spooks, that is, if none of the other very strange guests don’t beat him to it first.”

The sizable cast, which started rehearsing in mid-April, as soon as the speech competition season was finished, is comprised of Larissa Martin, Bea Martin, Logan Johnson, Elijah Lawson, Noah Lacey, Seth Boettcher, Michael Hrstka, Nick Fryer, Korey Cunningham, Maria Lawson, Mary Burshem-Hrstka, Jake Cain, Reigns Caradine, Elizabeth Schieffelbein, Emilie Copeman, Raimie Johnson, Alexandria Crawford, Peyton Ellis, Sydney Ellis, Aletta Strande, Josh Hrstka, Henry Worden, Nick Long and Trevor Gardner, with Jack Martinka handling lights and sound.

“We have a lot of veteran actors on stage, and some who are new to theater,” Schieffelbein said. “This show has a lot of fun characters that give the students a chance to be big onstage…to be over the top. It’s a lot of people on stage at once, which can be complicated, but also means they all get to be up there together having fun. There are also quite a few characters that get to play with having accents – some, more than one.”

Schieffelbein acknowledged that making rehearsals happen comes with challenges, as her student thespians are very active in school extracurriculars and outside of school.

“These kids are so busy in the spring, they all have a multitude of things they’re doing to finish up their school year, from homework to concerts to track meets,” she said. “It’s a lot. But they show up and put their best into making these characters come alive on stage. It’s really rewarding when you see things start to click and come together and feel like a real show. It’s always fun seeing what little details and things the cast will come up with and how their performance develops. There are always surprises in a show – sometimes unplanned ones!”

The director invited the public to join the students for their performance on Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at 7 p.m. in Potter Auditorium at the Chatfield Center for the Arts.

The 90-minute show offers a chance to get the joke while supporting students of all ages in their theatrical endeavors.

Schieffelbein stated, “We have kids in grades seven through 12. It’s great to see how they all work together, how the older cast members help the younger and newer ones. They’re a team, and they’re all there to put on the best show they can. It’s a funny, entertaining show. There are some great characters, and it’s very high-energy.”

Admission is $5 per person at the door, and students under ten years old are admitted free of charge.