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Connellsville seniors prep for 'Ditch Day' comedy

Linda Harkcom | For the Daily Courier Cast rehearses for class play The cast of the Connellsville Area High School Senior Class production of “Ditch Day” rehearse a scene for the play which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Connellsville Junior High School auditorium. From left are Christina Huggins, 17, of Leisenring; Brianna Showman, 17, of Bullskin Township; Elizabeth Becker, 17, of Connellsville; Evan White, 17, of South Connellsville; Alexis Schimansky, 17, of Connellsville; Matt Wiltrout, 17, of Bullskin Township; and Tyler Shultz, 17, of Indian Head.

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Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

This weekend, Connellsville Area High School seniors will show how students skipping school plus bumbling jewel thieves can add up to hilarity for the audience when they perform “Ditch Day.”

“It's family-friendly and a comedy, so the kids have fun performing it, and the audience will get a kick out of it. This should be pretty hilarious,” said David Hartz, the director and producer.

The 2012 Senior Class Play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Due to construction at the high school, this year's show will be held in the Connellsville Junior High School auditorium.

The new venue created some challenges for Hartz.

“I had to pick a show with minimal staging requirements because we didn't know what we would have available because all of the senior high stuff is in storage,” Hartz said. “This show is easy to produce and looked like a lot of fun.”

The comedy by Tim Kelly takes place on the day before senior prom at Horace Handyblender High, a day traditionally known as Ditch Day. This year the students have been warned that following tradition could land them in hot water.

The principal, Miss Claypool, played by Kait Nedrow, 17, of Dunbar, fondly known as “The Terror,” has vowed to track down any wayward students and make them pay dearly for their day of freedom.

This does not deter one group of friends. They decide to have a treasure hunt but end up finding more than they bargained for.

A trio of jewelry thieves has hidden a stolen diamond necklace in one student's bag and is watching the group's every move.

True to her word, “The Terror” and her assistant Miss Sparrow, played by Julianne Gibson, 17, of Connellsville, are in hot pursuit. The chase is on — through the art museum, a shopping mall and to the beach. Add an artist, a cop, a surfer, a bag lady and a fortune teller, and you've got a day filled with zany characters and lots of laughs.

“The show is about seniors, so it is very easy to relate to,” said Gibson. “It's kind of funny because Kait Nedrow is student council president and I'm vice president, and I'm her assistant in the show and in real life, so we have lots of fun.”

“Ditch Day” has a cast of approximately 40 senior students, with an additional number of students participating in various production crews.

Wesley White, 17, of Connellsville plays Buzz Ibo, the sidekick to a criminal and jewel thief.

“He is the comic relief of the villains. It's a pretty fun character. He has lots of one-liners that are really corny or funny,” White said.

This is White's first time on stage. He said the biggest challenge has been getting into character.

“I've never done anything like this before, and he's a criminal, which makes it harder because he is so different from who I am,” he said.

Tickets for the show are $5 per person. On Thursday only, there will be a special ticket price of $1 for students.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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