| Jan 14, 2015

For their annual drama production this year, grade nine and ten students in the drama program at the North Addington Education Centre in Cloyne chose "Aw, Shucks!" as the play that they most wanted to see performed.

Judging by the reception the play received at its inaugural performance on January 13 they made the right choice. The play, written by Toniann Guadagnoli, tells the tale of one large and way over the top "countri-fied" family. The plot focuses in on son Roscoe (perfectly portrayed by Matt Emslie) and his choice of his wife-to-be, Brooke, (aptly played by Brianna Bolduc). The problem is that Brooke hails from Brooklyn, New York, and Roscoe's “Maw”, hilariously portrayed by Selena Pelicos, is not having any of it. Instead Maw sets her sights on her preferred choice, Georgian belle Savannah, played with aplomb by Terri-Lynn Rosenblath.

Spurred on by the family matriarch, the family decides to hold a country-style contest where the two dueling possible brides-to-be face off in an attempt to corn shuck and cotton pick their way to the altar.

Of course the bridal hopefuls, being the wisest of the bunch, become friendly in the process, forcing Maw to take the outcome into her own hands. Maw hatches a sneaky countrified Princess and the Pea plan to curtail Brooke's win, which fails. Still, in the end it takes Elmer the horse to make Maw see the backwardness of her ways and realize that it is Brooke whom her son should ultimately marry - and of course Roscoe gets his city girl.

The actors each nailed their characters, with the countrified family members not only sounding like typical back woods southern hillbillies (I was informed that many accomplished the task by watching numerous reruns of the Dukes of Hazard), but also delivering their lines with the precise comic timing required to meet the mark.

The music in the play was lively and the line dancing scene at the family hoedown was one of the play's most memorable scenes.

Valerie Allan, who teaches drama at the school and stage managed the play, said the choice of play really fit the students. “They just seemed to naturally get the whole country thing really very well right from the start.”

Allan said that the fact that NAEC is a country school was a big reason why the students chose the play and added that the fact that the play presents a problem that is ultimately resolved, while poking fun at a number of typical stereotypes is a great learning experience both for these young thespians and the audience alike.

The response by the full house audience at Tuesday's performance proved that not only can these young dramatists do exactly what they set minds to, but that in the process they can entertain a full house of delighted viewers. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew who put one a very memorable performance at the NAEC for 2015.

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