Student actors aim to put on Dickens of a show

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Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
London High School’s drama department will present Charles Dickens’s “Nicholas Nickleby” Nov. 15-17. The cast includes: (front row, from left) Amaya Siddiqi, Danielle Bechtel, Ciara Cooney, Stevie Cooper; (second row) Meredith Hochstetler, Zoey Marshall, Sadie Large, Sara Madden, Alicia Skinner; (back row) Casey Rees, Christian Held, Clay Hurley, Reid Gates, Liam Comer, Luke Peart, Ben Treynor, Noah Brown, Adam Siddiqi and Paul Huff.

(Posted Nov. 7, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Charles Dickens’s “Nicholas Nickleby,” a story about a young man who supports his mother and sister after his father dies, was a hit when it came out in the late 1830s.

Fast-forward 180 years: the London High School drama department hopes for the same reception from audiences as they perform the stage version Nov. 15-17 in the Joyce Hildebrand Auditorium at the high school. Show time is 7 p.m. each night. Admission is $7. Senior citizens are invited to attend the dress rehearsal at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at no charge; refreshments will be served at 6:30.

Scott Blanton, English teacher and director of the production, chose to put on “Nicholas Nickleby” for several reasons, chief among them his love of the story. He likes that the title character learns to stand up for himself and others. And he likes the twist at the end.

“It has the typical convoluted Dickens plot but what makes the play stand out are all the amazing characters. They play out the different human emotions,” he said.

Blanton also chose this play because it requires a large cast. Turnout at tryouts was fantastic, he said, and he wanted a show that allowed everyone who showed interest a chance to participate.

“It’s nice to have a big cast and lots of kids interested in theater. We’re hoping to continue the momentum,” he said.

Filling lead roles in the 25-member cast are: junior Luke Peart as Nicholas Nickleby; senior Clay Hurley as Nicholas’s cold uncle, Ralph; senior Sadie Large as Nancy Noggs, Ralph’s clerk who befriends Nicholas; junior Paul Huff as Wackford Squeers, the cruel schoolmaster of Dotheboys Hall, where Nicholas goes to work; and senior Zoe Marshall as Mrs. Squeers, who is even harsher than her husband.

Some members of the cast have the fun and challenge of playing double roles. For example, sophomore Alicia Skinner plays both an unpleasant stepmother and another character’s cohort. sophomore Adam Siddiqi plays both an accountant and someone who is mysterious and threatening.

On top of it all, the entire cast is delivering their lines with British accents.

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