Two plays, one night: Perham students show creative talent in the theater

Perham students performed a 10-minute musical and a one-act comedy for audience members March 3-5.

A family played by Perham High School students in the one-act "Skid Marks: A Play About Diving" argue in the car. Mother and father sit annoyed in the front while two siblings poke each other in the back.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
Ms. Pac-Man, played by Miranda Poser, consoles Pac-Man (Roman Guajardo) and Junior Pac-Man (Jasper DeWall) as father and son have an argument about ghost pellets found in Junior's room during the musical, "Pellets, Cherries, and Lies: the Pac-Man Story."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

PERHAM — "Arts programs are fundamental to kids' development. Not only do they allow them to express themselves and enjoy making music and performing and creating a team together, but the arts program is also a place where kids can thrive who are not athletic or who don't find interest in those things," said Maggie Ragan, Perham High School choir teacher and theater director.

Perham kids had the chance to fully dive into the performing arts when they showcased two plays from March 3-5: the 10-minute musical "Pellets, Cherries, and Lies: The Pac-Man Story" and the one-act play "Skid Marks: A Play About Driving." Community members crowded into the seats of the studio for the weekend performances, and each student showed off their acting, singing, costuming and other artistic abilities.

Two friends, played by Perham High School students in the one-act, "Skid Marks," have very different reactions to being on the road. One yells and points at passing cars. The other grows more and more nervous at her friend's road rage.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

A lot more goes into creating these performances than what meets the eye. Audrina Gielen and Anna Jepson, both student actors in "Skid Marks," shared that they spent a lot of time developing their characters. They had to think about what the person they're playing thinks and feels as well as how they act and dress.

"It's so much creative work," said Trisha Crews, a senior who also performed in the driving-themed one-act. "It's not just reading a script and going onto stage. It's so much more. It's the costume. It's the makeup. It's the people. It's the cast. It's the actors. It's the director. It's a production."

Jepson, a freshman, added, "It's also fun because you have to think outside the box."


Due to inclement winter weather, a lot of practices throughout the rehearsal period were canceled, Ragan shared. This added a level of difficulty to the creative development and work students had to apply, but they still enjoyed themselves despite the struggles, Jepson and Gielen shared. Their hard work definitely shined during their shows.

Sue the Ghost, played by Lily Fiedler, tempts Pac-Man to "get back in the game" during "Pellets, Cherries, and Lies: The Pac-Man Story."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

"Pellets, Cherries, and Lies: The Pac-Man Story" takes a dramatic and realistic approach to the classic video game "Pac-Man." Starring Miranda Poser as Ms. Pac-Man, Roman Guajardo as Pac-Man and Jasper DeWall as Junior Pac-Man, the 10-minute musical follows the family as they struggle with Pac-Man's addiction, told in an allegory familiar to those who've played "Pac-Man" before.

Pac-Man struggles with an addiction to "ghost pellets," shiny gold orbs reminiscent of the video game's dots he has to eat throughout a maze while avoiding four different ghosts. The performance explores this allegory as Pac-Man's addiction not only affects his wife but also influences and hurts his child, who begins to take "ghost pellets" just like Pac-Man.

The four ghosts (played by Lily Fiedler, Emma Johnson, Courtney Poser and Kylie Lamb) tempt Pac-Man into continuing to eat the pellets, and students showcase the dramatic struggle of the story through six different songs.

"I've really enjoyed (performing)," said sophomore Miranda Poser. "Sometime in the future, I may try pursuing acting and singing probably. I enjoy doing it, and like making friendships with the people."

Three friends, played by Perham High School students, huddle together on stage as they chat with one another during "Skid Marks."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

After a 15-minute intermission, students returned to the stage to perform their one-act piece: "Skid Marks: A Play About Driving." Starring students Jasper DeWall, Angely Guzman, Roman Guajardo, Trisha Crews, Audrina Gielen, Anna Jepson, Avah Anderson and Madeleine Lamb, this vignette play offers viewers a comical and relatable depiction of driving through many different scenarios.

Performing students flexed their acting skills as they took on multiple characters throughout several scenes: from an exuberant young girl attempting to learn how to drive, to an arguing family sitting in comical tension on a 10-hour road trip.

Each of these characters had different outfits, hairstyles and mannerisms, showing the thought and effort that was put into each individual performance. The humorous scenes depicting road rage, reckless driving and car anxiety earned loud laughs from audience members as they saw themselves in the performance.


"At first you need to learn lines, but as you're learning lines, you also need to put more (into your character)," said Gielen. "What will your character do? You need to get a feel for their personality and what they're like."

Though several students expressed some nerves alongside their excitement prior to the performance, their hard work definitely shined.

"I've always liked acting — working behind scenes and on stage," said Crews. "I want to get it under my belt, and if it's a career I want to pursue, then I'll pursue it. But if not, then it's very hectic but fun nonetheless. It opens a door."

Ms. Pac-Man, played by Miranda Poser, sings "Out of the Game" with Junior Pac-Man, played by Jasper DeWall, at her side during "Pellets, Cherries, and Lies."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

While the actors played a big role in both performances, it wouldn't have been possible without the backstage crew, including Bailey Herness (stage manager and sound) and Alaina Mitchell (stage manager and lights). Several art students also put a lot of effort into the artwork featured on the set. The video game characters were drawn by Lily Wegschied, and the cars were painted by Joey Borth, Koda Cavalier, Easten Kyte and their art teacher Peder Butenhoff.

As the director, Ragan also put in quite a bit of effort, and she was quite proud of her students at the end of the day. Not only was it fun to see them grow as performers, but she's also really enjoyed watching them become close friends with their own inside jokes — even hanging out together outside of class.

"It's really fun to see them come from day one, where we're just learning words, and eventually getting to where we can block out some of their acting," she said. "But then the real fun begins when they start to truly become their characters and have fun onstage."

She continued, "It's so wonderful to see them — either how they've grown into an actor from their first time on stage, or perhaps kids who have no interest being on stage but get the opportunity to learn the background and put some of their knowledge in designing lights or running our sounds. (Performing arts) is such a wonderful area for kids to be able to develop a wide range of abilities, and it's so crucial to their development as an individual and also a community member.

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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