'The Beverly Hillbillies' coming to North Hills
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed.
The North Hills High School Drama Club will present the play “The Beverly Hillbillies” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 to 17 in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. A free senior citizen matinee will be held at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 17.
Based on the popular TV sitcom that ran from 1962 to 1971, the play depicts the unconventional rags-to-riches story of Jed Clampett, an impoverished and widowed mountaineer from the Ozarks. While Jed is in his backyard shooting varmint for food, a stray bullet pierces a hole in the ground, unplugging $25 million worth of crude oil lying beneath his property. With his new-found wealth, Jed packs up his family — including Elly May, his tomboy daughter; Granny, his aggressive, short-fused 72-year-old mother-in-law; and Jethro, the brawny, half-witted adult son of his cousin, Pearl — and moves to swanky Beverly Hills.
“Parents and grandparents were so excited when they found out we’re doing the show,” said Lauren Sarazen, director. “A lot of people are familiar with the story. It’s a comedy with a handful of tender moments.”
“My mom used to watch the TV show and she showed me videos of it. I actually liked it! It’s really corny, but it’s funny,” said sophomore Grace Scheller, 15, of Ross. She plays Granny.
The biggest challenge was creating the set, according to Sarazen.
“People who have grown up watching ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ have expectations of what the mansion should look like,” she said.
Students in the cast and stage crew built a curved staircase inside the mansion. It was not written into the play, but it is an aspect of the set from the TV show Sarazen wanted to replicate to illustrate the difference between the rustic Clampett cabin and their new home.
“We had to re-block all of the mansion scenes to best utilize the staircase and second floor. We’re using seven different entrance and exit points on the stage, so it’s very complex and interesting to watch,” Sarazen said.
She also decided to run the entire opening scene in black and white. All the props, costumes, set pieces, and lighting will be in whites, blacks, and grays to reflect the TV show’s original season premiere being broadcast in black and white.
Sarazen recruited sophomore Doug Bensch, 15, of West View, to bring live bluegrass music to the stage during scene changes. He will stroll across the stage, playing his acoustic guitar and possibly offering some improvisations, as well.
“I have no idea what I’m going to do yet, but I’m not nervous,” he said.
Since rehearsals began in early September, the students have had a lot of fun putting the show together. The hillbilly dialect is phonetically written in the script, and double entendres and cultural misconceptions are the core of the hillbilly hilarity.
“Oh, it’s so fun,” said senior Eleanore Pavelle, 17, of Ross. She plays Mrs. Drysdale, the ostentatious wife of Jed’s greedy, unscrupulous banker. Mrs. Drysdale is a blue-blooded Bostonian who traces her family back to the Mayflower and has obvious disdain for the “peasant” and “dreadful” hillbillies.
“She’s so dramatic. She always has migraines, yet she yells throughout the entire show,” Pavelle said. “It’s genuinely funny. This is the best play I’ve ever been in.”
Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.