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It's all Greek to them

Marie Nitke/FOCUS The cast of this year's One Act Play, "The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza," on stage at the Perham High School auditorium at a recent rehearsal.

The Perham High School One-Act Players are going Greek.

Fourteen student cast members will perform "The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza," for this year's One Act Play Contest.

In this 35-minute comedy, two narrators battle for the spotlight to give their own retellings of a few infamous Greek tales, such as Pandora's Box, the Titans, and Jason and the Argonauts. The play features a lightening-paced script that packs a humorous punch.

As sophomore Sierra Lynne describes it, "It's Greek stories, but in a modern form. And it has good jokes for both adults and children."

"It's a bunch of Greek myths that have a twist of humor to them," said Rachel Lorentz, who is in her seventh year of directing the One Act Play in Perham.

Both Lorentz and the Players had a hand in choosing this year's show. Lorentz narrowed the script selection down to two, from which the students chose "The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza" as their favorite. She said the kids wanted to do a comedy, knowing it would be the most fun.

"We used to do more serious material in past years," said Lorentz, "but kids don't have to be so glum with comedies."

The One Act Play Contest, sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League, starts with sub-sections in Battle Lake on Jan. 28. The winners of that competition will go on to sections, and the winners of that will go on to a state contest in February. 

The Perham cast will compete at sub-sections against students from Frazee, Browerville, Underwood, Battle Lake and Parkers Prairie. They will be judged on physical and vocal characterization, technical elements, educational value and overall effectiveness of the performance.

The students, however, say there's a lot more to it than just the competition. It's about the whole experience - and the fun of it.

"It's not only the performance," said senior Hannah Lorentz, who's been in the one act plays since her freshman year. "It helps you with public speaking... You grow so much."

Lynne said her favorite part of being involved is the moment just before each rehearsal, when the cast throws a mini "dance party."

"It's fun," said sophomore James Vana, who plays Hercules and Zeus. "It's really fun." 

"It's fun to see people come out of the woodwork," said Hannah, who remarked on the number of new faces on stage this year. "And to see that they're really good at it."

For some students, participating in the play is a way to 'try on' possible future career interests. Senior Tyler Schmitz, for example, is now in his third year of running the technical aspects of the show, namely lights and sound. While it's "sort of a hobby for him," he said it also fits in with his plans to pursue computer technology in college.

Schmitz also appreciates that his input is valued. His favorite thing about being a part of the play is "putting forward ideas to help the cast build their characters."

The Players have been rehearsing since the beginning of December, as many as five times a week. Director Lorentz said rehearsals have been going well, and the show is coming together quickly.

"We have a good group of kids," she said. "Good actors."

The Perham One Act Play is funded through a private donation given to the school a few years ago.

The public is invited to a free performance at the Perham High School Auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. (the show will be performed for middle school students at that time, as well). The public may also attend the sub-section competition at Battle Lake School; Perham students will perform at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28.

"If people want to get a good laugh and they're interested in Greek mythology, then they should come see the show," said Lorentz.

Cast members not already mentioned are: Karlee Omberg, Jackie Hanson, Christopher Knutson, Alyssa Olson, Heidi Weber, Kyra Arneri, Mckenzie Leslie, Jessica Maxwell, Callista Wengel, and Michael Thompson.