by Paul Hadsall
CLARK – Witches took over an auditorium transformed into the Great Smoky Mountains of Appalachia at Arthur L. Johnson High School on Thursday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Nov. 22. The high school’s drama program presented a production of Howard Richardson and Richard Berney’s 1945 play, “Dark of the Moon.”
The play, which draws inspiration from the folk song “The Ballad of Barbara Allen,” tells the story of a young witch boy (played by Michael Palmero) who falls in love with a human girl (Lauren Semler) and seeks to become human so he can be with her. The Conjur Woman (Marion Petite) grants his request, but there’s a catch – John must marry Barbara Allen, and she must be faithful to him for a year or he will turn back into a witch.
Although the play is not a musical, the cast is called on the sing a number of songs and they performed the task well. Semler, who appeared in previous ALJ productions of “Evita” and Godspell,” put her singing talent to good use in an acapella performance of the show’s version of “The Ballad of Barbara Allen” and a show-opening solo in “Amazing Grace.”
Drama teacher Peter Nevargic, who handled double duty by directing the show and portraying Preacher Haggler, had some of “Dark of the Moon’s” finest comedic moments and got the biggest ovation during the curtain call at the end of the show.
The cast also included Madison Szilagyi and Jeffrey Corson as Barbara Allen’s parents, Simone Palermo in the double role of Conjur Man and Burt Atkins, Ivy Meyer as the Dark Witch, Gia Pozo as the Fair Witch, Brian Milara as Uncle Smelicue, Chloe Lynn Meyer as Miss Metcalf, Ryan Kowalenko as Marvin Hudgens, Chelsea Holzer as Edna Summey, Will Horner as Hank Gudger, Nadia Szilagyi as Mrs. Bergen and Victoria Koebli as the Fiddler.
Brad Terhune deserves credit for designing and building sets that, in combination with Nevargic’s lighting design, really brought the rural Depression-era setting to life on stage.
Sam Abbaticola was the technical director, Devin Araujo was the assistant director, Sara Prado was the production stage manager, and Pozo was responsible for the show’s graphic design, including its poster.
The ALJ drama program will present Grease as its spring musical in March.
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