A poet who practices dying to spark inspiration. An artist who paints people's faces, with or without their permission. A mysterious stranger and his sister who are determined to find the pirate treasure buried in the basement.
This year's Fort Dodge Senior High fall play "The Boardinghouse" puts a wild cast of characters together under one roof.
It's also the first Fort Dodge production for the new drama teacher, Lindy Krug.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Eighty-eight year old Dr. Sni-fell, played by Rob Leigh, and mysterious treasure-hunting stranger Dirk Shadow, played by Tim Hatton, rehearse a scene from the upcoming FDSH fall play “The Boardinghouse.”
The play is set in the "Happy Days" time period, Krug said.
Sophomore Rob Leigh explained the play and his character, Dr. Sni-Fell.
"The boardinghouse is going on much as it has the past 10, 20 years, when suddenly a stranger called Dirk Shadow and his sister Veronica come and start asking questions about an old wives' tale about the pirate, Capt. Schnook, and buried treasure," Leigh said.
If you go:
What: Fort Dodge Senior High fall play
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday
Where: The Gail Niceswanger Little Theater at FDSH
Harriet Madeline Ascherl
Tweenie Madison Bell
Mr. Richards Ian Brown
Martha Willis Jamila Shing-Hon
Gladys Klotz Morgan Pratkelis
Dirk Shadow Tim Hatten
Ivy Janessa Laupp
Hortense Sarah Rethwisch
Veronica Michaela Beckman
Dr. Sni-Fell Rob Leigh
"It's mainly about everyone trying to find the treasure."
Sni-Fell is an 88-year-old doctor, Leigh said, and a World War I veteran. He's been retired for 20 years and needs some extra income.
"So this is why he keeps making house calls, mainly to the boardinghouse. Martha is always calling having a different illness every single day."
"I am a crazy hypochondriac," said Jamila Shing-Hon, who plays Martha. "I say I have every illness known to mankind, like leprosy, fallen arches, pneumonia and things like that."
Remembering all those big words can be tough, she said.
Leigh said he drew from professional actors to get into character.
"I sort of look at people from movies, like James Hong as Lo Pan from 'Big Trouble in Little China.' I look at many different styles of old characters played in different movies," said Leigh.
Junior Madeline Ascherl plays Harriet, the home owner.
"I love being the voice of reason, while everything's getting big and wild around me," said Ascherl. "It's really fun. I love working with all these people. This is an amazing cast."
Senior Michaela Beckman has been in four fall plays at FDSH, and said adjusting to the new director has been different.
"It's been kind of weird. She's more relaxed," Beckman said. "Now things are starting to become strict and like, you've got to get this done, where that was like every single practice with the former teacher."
An FDSH alum, Krug said coming back as a teacher gives her an entirely new perspective.
"It's somewhat surreal. When you're a student you can just see it one way, and now as an adult I see things differently. I have a pride being from here, so I think I take pride in what these kids are doing," she said.
Krug studied theater at the University of Iowa, but got her teaching certificate later at Simpson College.
"I wasn't going into education. It wasn't until I was coaching a speech team in 2003 that I realized I really enjoy working with this age group," she said.
Not only did she perform in her high school shows at FDSH, Krug met her husband in a show at Hawkeye Community Theatre and also directed her first show there.
She said she's impressed by the level of talent she has to work with here.
"They're fun to work with. We laugh. We joke. But we also get the job done," she said.
"I really get a kick out of characters when they take it upon themselves to add something new - not just waiting for me to give direction," she added.
"Rob, who plays Dr. Sni-Fell, has really impressed me with his ability to come up with things off-the-cuff. Just tonight, now that we have the walls up on the set, when he was entering he tried to open the window as if it were the door, and then realized what it was and went over to the door and came in. And, of course, we didn't have walls before so he couldn't have done that, but it was hilarious."