Last week, a summer-slumbering RCHS school building opened its doors for a benefit performance of the comedic play “Homework Eats Dog and Other Woeful Tales” by Alan Haehnel. Once again, the Rappahannock community pooled resources to support one of its own.
RCHS junior Austen Cloud earned acceptance into Boston University’s Summer Theater Institute but needed funding assistance. Headwaters Foundation and the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) stepped in to help Cloud pursue his dream. Local parents and friends provided sweet treats for the donations-only bake sale. Cloud’s RCHS Drama Club compatriots joined forces to top-off the efforts with their creative idea of producing a one-night play.
For a $5 suggested donation, enthusiasts of live theater enjoyed a laughter fest. Cloud took the lead role as the semi-evil science professor, Douglas Kobekeaneski, who sadistically assigned his students a nearly impossible science project due on Friday the 13th. To Kobekeaneski’s sinister delight, students sought deadline extensions and attempted to persuade him with varying excuses.
The creative attempts became more imaginative until the tables turned on the professor. Cloud and his drama peers delivered sterling performances with many of them playing multiple roles that required them to manage costume changes while expertly making smooth transitions between scenes.
After the overwhelmingly successful performance, Drama Club sponsor and play director Russell Paulette talked proudly during the dessert reception. “In a lot of ways, the beauty of the production was its simplicity – when I mentioned the idea, students showed an eagerness. They were even more excited after seeing the material. This was worlds different from anything we’ve done. I tried, consciously, to keep the tone fun and light, since it was all about sending off our friend in style. Compared to the immensity of some other RCHS productions, this was a whole lot more like an apertif and a, ‘Hey, let’s put on a play in the barn,’ approach. I cannot think of a better capstone on a successful year.”
The lead actor paused after the play for a candid conversation about his upcoming Boston experience. “We will be in training from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday with only one day of break. The program teaches singing, movement, acting, dancing . . . everything. One of the most exciting thing is that I will get to work with a group of 60 people from all over the country.”
Cloud’s final comments belied both his gratitude and his sense of humor. “It was a fantastic night. Thank you, everyone. You are lovely, beautiful people . . . and you smell nice, too.”
Cast and crew
Austen Cloud – Douglas Kobekeaneski
Morgan Cloud – Jane/Bed People/Mouse
Hunter Carroll – Kid 1/Student Acting as Mr. K/Maximilian Obediah Unferdorfer/Student
Sarah Wheatley – Kid 4/Angel/Mouse/Student
Addie Swindler – Diane/Wall People/Mouse/Student
Jessica Boutte – Wall People/Amanda
Emily Pearcy – Lilly/Kid 6/Mouse/Copernicus
Zach Jackson – Zach/Policeman/Desk People/Mouse/Student
Wayne Bird – Kid 3/Diane 6/Billy/Helper 1/#15/Student
Danielle Boutte – Bed People/June /Diane 7/# 10
Michael Caporuscio – Desk People/Norm
Keelee Armor – Kid 2/Diane 5/Kelly/Mouse/Student
Brittany Stephens – Kid 5/Diane Demonstrator/Diane 10/Josh/# 3/Student
Sarah Ames – Scientist/Chair Person/Mouse/Helper
Steven Nelson/Logan Stephens – Lighting
Ely Ashby – Stage Crew