Clarence Rawlins has recently come into a great inheritance. Unfortunately, a misplaced letter keeps him from getting rich in a wild west saloon and instead has him taking over his aunt's beauty salon.
This is the premise of "Taming the Wild, Wild West in a Dress (... Or Let's Give the Villain the Slip)," a Fort Frye High School dinner theater production being performed this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
James Borick portrays Rawlins, a struggling actor who has to don a dress and wig to become Lady Claire Rawl.
Submitted by Alana Cunningham
Members of the cast of “Taming the Wild, Wild West in a Dress” pose for a photo during a recent rehearsal.
Natalie Hart, left, as villainess Jessica James, and Jordan Baker, as the conniving villain Colt Revolver Jr., rehearse a scene from Fort Frye’s latest dinner theater production, which opens Friday.
"I have been involved in the drama program for a while but I kind of felt like trying for a lead part this time," said Borick, a senior at Fort Frye who has also been involved with the Smoot Theatre and the Actors Guild in Parkersburg. "He is the hero and a pretty smart guy who gets the girl."
As part of the drama program's research on "melodrama" and to prepare to take on this show from Pioneer Drama Service, teacher Alana Cunningham assigned the students to write their own stories using the elements found in this typically exaggerated and over the top form of theater.
"We kind of had to follow the same general rule with the hero and heroine, the villain and villainess," said Alex Medina, a senior who portrays Melody Plunkett, the heroine. "She's the pretty, sweet piano player who plays at church ... and at the saloon. But they only serve sasparilla there, so it's OK."
If you go
What: "Taming the Wild, Wild West in a Dress" dinner theater.
Where: Fort Frye High School auditorium and cafeteria.
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday (reservations required); 3 p.m. Sunday (general admission).
Tickets: $12 Friday and Saturday for show and western-themed dinner; $8 Sunday, no dinner.
For information: 984-2376.
Medina said she had friends who were part of the drama program and thought it looked like fun.
"I was also shy so this kind of brought me out of my shell," she said.
Cunningham said there are about 30 students in the production and she likes the students to be involved in every aspect, including set building and makeup.
"I like to put them where they feel comfortable but also like for them to stretch themselves," she said.
And it was pretty much a stretch for Natalie Hart to take on the role of Jessica James, daughter of notorious outlaw, Jesse James.
"I've always played the good girl so I wanted to try something new," said Hart, whose previous roles include Sleeping Beauty, Sister Leo - a nun, and "the ditzy, goodie two-shoes" roles.
"This is totally new for me and I really had to practice being mean," she said.
Jessica James, along with Colt Revolver Jr., played by Jordan Baker, a sophomore, causes trouble for Lady Claire Rawl, his sidekick Rogaine and the rest of the gang in Lucky Lady Nevada in this production which will include dinner Friday and Saturday.
"It will be a western-themed dinner and will be in the cafeteria between scenes in the auditorium," said Cunningham.
Reservations are required for Friday and Saturday. Sunday's performance will be general admission.
Tickets for the G-rated show are $12 for Friday and Saturday and $8 Sunday. Some of the proceeds will help to fund a trip to New York for the drama program.