Students offer spring play

Students with the Fairmont High School Theater Department practice their parts for “Is There a Doctor in the House?” during a recent dress rehearsal. The play will be performed 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Performing Arts Center at the high school.

People looking for a good-natured, fun time and a lot of laughs to kick off their weekend can’t go wrong with this year’s spring play at Fairmont High School.

Show times include a 12:30 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. start for the main showing of “Is There a Doctor in the House?” by Tim Kelly on Friday.

Senior citizens will be able to get in for free at the 12:30 matinee, while tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students. Fairmont students can get in free with their ID badges.

“The play is a western comedy,” said high school teacher and director Sara Gudahl. “It’s a play off the old doctor plays from years past, done by Groucho Marx. It’s very silly, very slapstick, and full of ridiculous jokes.”

“There’s a young lady who’s in love with her cowboy boyfriend, but her dad wants her to marry this old guy with money who has one foot in the grave. So she then loses her voice on her wedding day to stall the marriage, and they go through this process of finding a doctor who can cure her. The whole play is one-liner after one-liner, and the difficult thing about this particular play is that all of the action is propelled by quick short bursts of random dialogue, so it’s been really difficult to learn.

Gudahl stated that this year she had 27 students try out for the play, which she sees as a big compliment, in light of all the winter and spring sports and activities that students are often involved with.

“We have to be an add-on,” she continued, “we don’t have regular scheduled practices, we just have to find time to fit it in. When you try to ‘fit it in’ with 27 different students’ schedules who play hockey and basketball, go out for speech and have a job, it can be difficult.”

As for the play, Gudahl said she chose it primarily because it is a good fit for the large number of students who came to her.

“I wanted to have one that called for a lot of cast members and that would give everybody a chance to have some speaking lines and get some theater on-stage experience,” she said. “It’s a full-length two-act extravaganza, and there’s no scene breaks. It’s a full act one and a full act two, and it’s been pretty intense.”

“The students have been fantastic, and I’m so proud of them,” she continued. “They’ve made it their own and they’ve chosen moments and places where they come to me with ideas on how to add something or change things. They’re the best, and they find time to fit it all in with their school studies.”

“We’ve only had 11 practices that have had any significant attendance, and I don’t know that we’ve had any where every member has been there every time.”

As with every play, the set is an integral part of the program, and Gudahl is grateful for the help she received in that area.

“I have to give my biggest shout out ever to Mary Schmidt,” she said. “She’s retired and she always volunteers her services for our musicals. I called her and asked if she had any time for my set and I just handed her a set design, and 24 hours later every piece was on my stage.”

“She’s amazing, and since then she’s come in over and over to finesse and adjust and make it beautiful. She’s my go-to, and I couldn’t have done any of it without her.”