Fall play, '60s Mania, coming up Nov. 15-18

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For about 40 Faribault High School theatre students, more than a month of hard work and practice will culminate with four performances of the fall play, ‘60s Mania.

They will perform three evening shows from Nov. 15-17 at 7:30 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 18 at the high school’s Michael J. Hanson Performing Arts Center.

‘60s Mania is a comedy written by Craig Sodaro. “More than a comedy, it’s a farce, with lots of improbable situations and unique characters,” FHS English language arts teacher and artistic director Paul H. Johnson said. “The head of the household, Norman, thinks he’s going to be fired. The boss is coming over for dinner… his oldest daughter is going to run away with a hippie and his youngest daughter just won a date with Ringo Starr. Throw in a bunch of Beatles fans and a psychiatrist and it gets pretty crazy.”

Twenty students have parts in the play and another 18 will work behind the scenes with lighting, sounds, sets, props and wardrobe. Johnson said being involved in theater productions teaches students lots of skills, but the most important is collaboration.

“You have to learn how to work with people. It’s hands-on, you can’t do it on your phone,” he said. “You have to engage the right brain. Everything is involved. Students are solving problems and they have to look not only at the problem, but the possibilities around the problem. That’s a lifelong skill once you figure it out.”

Johnson said the nature of the play ‘60s Mania allows opportunities for the entire ensemble to shine.

“Even the smaller parts are big at one moment or another,” he said.

The fall play is the first big event of the school year for the theatre program. Students will participate in one-act plays over the winter, host children’s theatre in January and put on a musical in the spring. In his 21st year at FHS, Johnson continues to enjoy the process of working with students to put on theatrical productions.

“This cast and crew are a great group of young adults. They are taking this process seriously. After all, comedy is not easy,” he said. “The directors could not be more proud of what they have accomplished.”

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