The Wetaskiwin Composite High School (WCHS) Drama troupe performed Timberlake Wertenbakers’ ‘The Ash Girl’ running December 46, 2014.
During the first couple of minutes of the performance, one was surprised by the sophistication of the script for a high school drama team, exploring deeper subject matter while making use of advanced literary techniques in the dialogue. Always a scary proposition when you are facing a two-hour performance in a gymnasium with a high school budget.
The cast however, codirected by Dawn Marshall and Brenna Jensen, exhibited a clear understanding of their characters and delivered a convincing performance to effectively relay the underlying message of the production, as summarized by director Dawn Marshall, “Our destinies are ours to create.”
The story took on the classic Cinderella script and weaved the personification of the seven deadly sins to create a introspective drama about the young ‘diamond in the rough’ Ash Girl, played by Mackenzie Fisher-Bach, rising above her fears and situation to see the value in herself, despite the dark voices that would tell her otherwise.
What made the ‘Ash Girl’ script well suited for a high school production was the depth of character development for all cast members. There was no ‘breathing props’ to be seen. The audience enjoyed, and was challenged, by each character the script introduced. For a few examples, eerie was the performance by Nadja Sawola-Brown as Ash Girl’s main tormentor ‘Sadness’, we laughed at Garrett Rempel’s ‘Otter’ and Madison Stephan (Judith) actually made us feel sorry for one of the evil stepsisters.
It would be unfair to not mention the work put in behind the scenes. Set, costume, and makeup did an excellent job as well as the stage crew, lights and sound techs during the performance. Though equipment seemed minimal and dated, they ensured we were able to hear and see the story unfold before us. With the quality of the fine arts and music programs at the high school, if a little more help in this area could be found from local arts patrons, it would go a long way in their development.
Thank you to all the actors, background workers and directors for their hard work and success at entertaining and challenging their audience. Well done.
Pictured: Prince Amir (Johnathan Alimchandani) and his endearing mother Princess Zehra (Claire Holliday). Photo by Ken Matthias