A group of Leavenworth High School students are playing up cliches and well-worn characters in the latest production from the school’s Stella Productions.
Those characters and scenarios, part of the all-school production of “Done to Death” that begins Friday, were auditioned this week in teasers before what cast members acknowledged might be their most difficult audience — their peers.
“It was a little scary,” said Aimee Hanson, who portrays author Jessica Olive in the play.
However, as Hanson said, getting a positive reaction from their peers — something they got with the teasers Wednesday — helped decrease some of the potential nerves when the curtain goes up for a general audience Friday.
“It’s really great,” she said of getting intended laughs from her fellow students. “That’s when you know you’ve really got it.”
The 12-member cast of “Done to Death,” a 1970 play by Fred Carmichael, have been working for the past five weeks to perfect characters drawn straight from the canon of mysteries — from James Bond spy thrillers to hard-boiled noir to Agatha Christie whodunits.
William Telgren, who like others has multiple roles in the play, said he had to do some research to understand exactly what he was referencing.
“At first I didn’t know who it was supposed to be,” he said.
Once he found Nick Charles from “The Thin Man,” he said he was able to get more comfortable in his role.
In the play, five formerly popular mystery writers gather at a tropical vacation home to write a new mystery-based TV series. Real-life murders, however, start happening around them, and each tries to solve the puzzle with the help of the audience and through imagined hypotheses acted out in their own signature style.
“Every little cliche that has been in a mystery, I think we’ve got it here,” said LHS Drama department director Lee Hitchler.
The production is the second for Hitchler. She said in addition to the 12 students on stage, there are about 20 behind the scenes for technical work and for things like building the set from scratch.
“We wanted to get as many students involved as possible,” Hitchler said.
Many of them wore multiple hats, according to “Done to Death’s” technical director Cohen Babcock.
“Every moment possible, we stole the cast to work with us,” he said.
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Leavenworth High School’s Stella Productions will present “Done to Death” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Leavenworth High School Performing Arts Center, 2012 10th Ave. Tickets will cost $4 for adults and $3 for students at the door.