HAZARD — The Perry County Commodore Players drama company recently held a two-day audition for their upcoming competition piece Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” The play will be performed at the first ever Kentucky Theatre Association (KTA) East Kentucky Regional Festival.
Director Phil Neace said the festival came about because of the popularity of drama in eastern Kentucky and the high number of schools that participated in KTA.
Last year, 20 schools was the cut off number for how many schools could participate and Neace said KTA realized that was too many schools. The number of schools was lowered to 10.
“We get to say that we put the seed in the state of Kentucky to grow something like this,” said Neace.
Though, Neace said it was a good problem to have because it showed how much interest there was for drama in Kentucky, especially eastern Kentucky.
This play will be The Players’ first play for the season. They will have six weeks to rehearse before they will perform the play at the festival.
The drama company decided on “The Merry Wives of Windsor” because they feel it would be a judge pleaser.
Last year, a judge told Neace that the play The Players had performed was too serious for a competition piece.
Neace said the comment made a light bulb go off in his head and he immediately thought of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by Shakespeare.
The play will have 12 speaking parts, but Neace said he would add as many extra non-speaking parts as he could. This would allow those who don’t get a speaking part to still potentially be a part of the play.
Ticket prices will be reduced for public performances of the play because of the shortened run time the play has. It currently has a run time of 45 minutes.
Many new faces have joined the drama company. The drama company lost several of their talent when the seniors from last year graduated from PCHS.
One of the new faces to join the drama company was ninth grader Haley Campbell. She joined the drama company because she thought it would help with her anxiety and depression and help her come out of her shyness.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” said Campbell. “Mr. Neace’s enthusiasm about drama made me excited about this.”
Campbell said she was excited about the upcoming season with The Players and she is hoping to get a part in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
Freshman Brianna Popp said the reason she wanted to join the drama company and audition for a part in the play was because of her love for Broadway Musicals.
“I needed to learn the ways of theatre and the ways of music, so that is why I joined the choir and drama,” said Popp.
Popp said she hopes to have a career as a singer and if that doesn’t pan out, she hopes to become an actress.
Public performances of the play will be at the end of September and early October. Exact dates will be will be available on The Players Facebook page.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald and he can be reached at 606-629-3245.