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MVHS student to direct spring play
With the theater arts teacher on maternity leave, Mtn. Valley senior Erich Zurhorst has stepped forward to make his directorial debut for the school's annual spring play. (Photo by Donna Peare)
RUMFORD -- Each spring, Mountain Valley High School thespians produce a much-anticipated play. The students expect to do it. The community expects to enjoy it. But what happens when the theater arts teacher is on maternity leave and cannot produce the play?
Enter senior Erich Zurhorst for his directorial debut. Zurhorst has appeared on stage in a wide variety of roles, most recently as Sir Harry in Once Upon a Mattress.
“Directing is much harder than acting,” explained Zurhorst. “As an actor, I’m responsible for my lines. Now I feel responsible for all of the lines and the actors as well.”
Students rehearse Monday through Thursday for two hours under Zurhorst’s direction. “Mr. (Jarrod) Dumas has been our chaperone. When he isn’t available, Mrs. (Cathy) Charles fills in. We appreciate their dedication to being there for us,” said Zurhorst.
So what are the student actors working on and when will it be performed? “We’re producing Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s a crime mystery that involves a curse, a diabolical hound and an anonymous note. I won’t say any more. You’ll just have to come see the play.”
The curtain will rise on Thursday, Apr. 12 at 7 p.m., and on Saturday, Apr. 14, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Muskie Auditorium at MVHS.
In addition to Zurhorst’s debut as a director, actors new to the MVHS stage play two major roles. In his first performance, sophomore Nathan Fitzpatrick is Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ friend and in this story, the star. Home-schooled student Miles Sullivan has the role of Sherlock Holmes, who advises Watson from afar.
“Both are fantastic in their roles,” said Zurhorst.
In addition to the new actors, the audience will see several familiar faces. Alex Witas is Sir Henry. He was the jester in Once Upon a Mattress. Former minstral Andrew Phelps is Jon Stapleton, collector of rare butterflies. Victoria Gordon plays Miss Stapleton, sister of Phelps’ character. She played the devious Queen Aggravain.
Previously known as Prince Dauntless, Cody Smith is Mr. Barrymore, a housekeeper who keeps the secrets of the manor. Mariah Haggan is Mrs. Barrymore, who has links to strange happenings around the moor.
Zurhorst is happy that “people are learning their lines, taking my direction and acting well. It’s been a little difficult with all my schoolwork. But it’s been such a cool experience to do this.”
“Please mark your calendar for a thought-provoking whodunit,” concluded Zurhorst.