Amph-Rats original play features unique casting


The cast of “Just Your Average Joes” features (back row, left to right) Teddy Laumann, Keagan Gustin, Alex Gravatt, Leon Gehri, Anya Popova, Jonathon Gideon, Kelly Pocian; (front row) Jimmy Balistreri, Maggie Chandler, Sierra Schulz, Jenny Schwartz, Zouheir Jamal, Autumn Mertes and Gerry Grabinski. — Submitted photo The cast of “Just Your Average Joes” features (back row, left to right) Teddy Laumann, Keagan Gustin, Alex Gravatt, Leon Gehri, Anya Popova, Jonathon Gideon, Kelly Pocian; (front row) Jimmy Balistreri, Maggie Chandler, Sierra Schulz, Jenny Schwartz, Zouheir Jamal, Autumn Mertes and Gerry Grabinski. — Submitted photo Three Plymouth High School drama students have written an original play, which they and their classmates will present for the public.

“Just Your Average Joes” will be presented by the PHS Amph- Rats Acting Company, which consists of juniors and seniors enrolled in the Advanced Acting Class, or Drama II/III. The company got its name because students perform in the PHS Amphitheatre.

The play is set in the present day and features a variety of stereotypical high school characters trying to figure out who is behind an unexpected homecoming invitation. By the end of the play, the mystery is solved, many of the student’s facades have been revealed, and many unexpected truths are explained.

To demonstrate the diversity of the characters, the writers have double-cast the play each night so that the characters switch genders. “Audiences are encouraged to come and see the play on both nights to watch how the dynamics between the characters change when the genders are switched,” said drama teacher Janet DeJean Newton.

Maggie Chandler, Kate Harms and Mary Riley worked on the script all third quarter. “I really enjoyed writing it,” Mary said, “and it was especially fun to develop characters that could be played by both genders.”

Kate said she doesn’t normally do collaboration, but enjoyed working with the others. “I was still able to be creative and write the way like to,” she said. “We each had our strengths, and they all matched up so we could write a story. I’m good with dialogue, Mary was more detail-oriented, and Maggie handled the plot stuff.”

Maggie said she took the class specifically so she would have the opportunity to write an actual script. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I can now say I’ve achieved a goal of mine thanks to the Amph Rats class,” she said. “But by no means was this a simple task. Writing ‘Just Your Average Joes’ has been the most fun, challenging, and defining moment of my entire high school career.”

The class has had only four weeks of rehearsals, so actors are not expected to have all of their lines committed to memory. “The kids will do their best to have the text memorized, but our writers were so prolific a few scripts may appear on stage,” Newton said.

Performances will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16 in the Amphitheatre at the school, 125 Highland Ave., Plymouth. Admission is free.

Members of the cast are Jimmy Balistreri, Maggie Chandler, Shauna Clemens, Lucas Collard, Zouheir Jamal, Leon Gehri, Jonathon Gideon, Gerry Grabinski, Alex Gravatt, Keagan Gustin, Kate Harms, Teddy Laumann, Patrick Lemkuill, Autumn Mertes, Kelly Pocian, Anya Popova, Mary Riley, Alan Schaefer, Sierra Schulz, Jenny Schwartz, Skyler Simenz and JoAnne Solfest. Alan Schaefer handles tech.

During the semester-long class, students prepare two performances: in April a play that has been previously scripted and published (which this year was “Romeo and Juliet”), and in May an original script created by the students.


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