PDT Staff Writer
The Panther Players of Clay High School are preparing to present John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” for their debut production. The musical is set to convene May 16-17 at the high school.
Joseph Pratt, production director, said they are ecstatic about the production and are looking forward to it with great anticipation.
“Almost Maine is about 18 different characters and it covers the course of one night in Maine,” Pratt said. “It is a corky and cute comedy of sorts. There is romance in every scene, they are all different.”
According to Pratt, “Almost Maine” is currently the most produced play in high schools in the United States, moving Shakespeare’s, “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream,” which has held the title of most produced for many years.
Pratt attributes the popularity of “Almost Maine” to what the play is about — relationships.
“It has something that everyone can relate to. It has the different romances between different types of people, there’s some younger people, new relationships, older relationships, broken relationships and some that are just starting to Bloom,” Pratt said.
Pratt said “Almost Maine” compels its audiences with an element of unpredictability.
“There is romance in every scene, and they are all different, and don’t really know what you are going to get from each one of them. Just when you think it is going to be normal, there is something that happens that is very unexpected,” Pratt said.
Pratt teaches a Journalism class with the elementary school after school program and works with the Latch Key program.
Aside from his current work with Clay Local Schools, Pratt has an extensive theatrical background in theatre.
“I am currently on the board of Portsmouth Little Theatre. I also help out with the Children’s’ Theatre locally, and a host of theatres in the tri-state area,” Pratt said.
As it relates to theatre, Pratt said he is versatile.
“I do anything from stage managing, to set design, just about everything,” Pratt said.
He said his current project came as the result of one of his students.
“Prior to this Clay Local Schools didn’t really have a theater program at all. Back in December, one of my students saw me in the production of ‘Almost Maine’ in Ashland and she came to see it. She really liked it, and said she wished that Clay could do something like that,” Pratt said.
The request from his student ignited a fire in Pratt.
“I decided, that since I work here, to make it my duty to bring theatre back,” Pratt said.
Bailey Hartlage, a student at Clay, will portray two characters in the play. She said she is excited about being a part of the cast.
“I am a little nervous, but very excited about it. I play two parts, Marvelin, and Hope. Marvelin is an erratic girl who is always worrying. Hope is very hyper, and never stops talking,” Hartlage said.
Hartlage said she has had some experience in musicals.
“I have mainly been a part of musicals. I am excited about being a part of this, because I have always wanted to do a play and not just a musical,” Hartlage said. “I hope that we will keep growing, and maybe do more plays.”
Allison Thompson, a senior atWest High School, is serving as assistant director for the production.
“My part is Rhonda. She is a very back-woodsy type of girl who works at a lumber mill, and is not exactly the girly-girl type,” Thompson said. “The scene that I am involved is very adorable, it is an awesome scene, I just love it.”
After her completion of high school this year, Thompson will attend Northern Kentucky University in the fall where she plans to major in Musical Theatre. She was also a part of the local production of “Legally Blond” performed by the Portsmouth Little Theatre.
Pratt said the Panther Players has been very beneficial to the students.
“It has really been a great outlet for students to act, and to learn the art of performing for a school program,” Pratt said.
He said the community has been very supportive of the endeavor including many of the parents.
“We have funded the show by selling advertisements. This could not have been possible if the community didn’t desperately want to see a program here at Clay.” Pratt said. “We have had several sponsors throughout the community that have helped out.”
Pratt said the production is operating from a meager budget.
“We are running on an amazingly low budget of $500. It was a good show to choose because it doesn’t cost a lot to put on,” Pratt said.
The show is set to run May 16 through 17 each night at 7:30 p.m. at Clay High School. The general admission is $5 for everyone.
“We wanted to keep the cost of the tickets low, so that everyone would have an opportunity to come in and see a good, quality show. We are not in it for the money, we are in it for the experience of the kids,” Pratt said.
Pratt said he is anticipating growth in the theatrical program at Clay.
“This year I have really learned what to do, and what not to do, and we only have room to grow. For the years to come I would like to see the community expecting Clay to rise to be a decent place for quality theatre for high school kids,” Pratt said.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Portia on Twitter at PortiaWillPDT.