Mt. Morris High School traditionally had an annual junior play in the fall and senior play in the spring. We also had a very active drama club which went by various names during our high school years (see the Thespian story), and our English teachers encouraged participation in the arts--acting, writing and set design.
I think half of our class was in our senior play, The Red House Mystery, either in the cast or the production crew. Some of us doubled as actors and production staff.
The play was based on the book by A.A. Milne, the author of House at Pooh Corner and Now we are Six, so enjoyed by generations of children, my sisters and me included. Adapted for the stage in three acts by Ruth Perry, it is still being performed by schools and community groups. It's a relief to know it survived the class of 1957 which performed it 50 years ago this month.
The plot is complicated with sibling rivalry, house guests, a murder and even a ghost, and is set in an English manor house. Darlene H. played the actress Ruth Norris and wore a sheet to be a convincing ghost. David S. and Duane B. were Inspectors Birch and Turner, trying to investigate the murder of the master of the manor. Jon M. and Nancy L. were Antony and Angela, an engaged couple. Myron B. played Cayley the foster son (and murderer) who is killed by Inspector Turner (Duane). Sharon G. was the housekeeper and Mary Lou S. and I were maids. Glenn O. played a retired Army officer and put his whole heart and soul into his scenes and was the only one who could be heard in the back of the auditorium. Other cast and crew members were Priscilla D., Carolyn M., Carol K., Pat B., Mike B. and Nelson P.; please add names that I've missed--and parts if you remember.
Our director was the wonderful and patient Mrs. Burstrom (she was also 8th grade teacher for many in the class), and I can't say enough about how hard she worked with us to get our lines right. One phrase, "They quarrelled" kept coming out as "The squirelled" by the time it was heard in the back. We had a great time during rehearsals and poor Mrs. Burstrom was in tears more than once, as we could not remember our lines. Opening night came and went and we managed to get through our three acts with parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles all assembled and applauding dutifully.
Diane B. hosted our cast party following the play and she and her mother were wonderful hostesses with much food and drink and a huge cake. We presented our beleaguered director with a thank you gift from everyone in the cast and crew and a card signed by everyone. I presented the gift to her and once again she cried. She was a wonderful person and a great teacher.