By Dalton Martin
The moment of truth for the new theatre arts director, Ms. Gina Cisto, has officially come! Stepping into retired New Albany legend Mr. Longest’s footsteps was to be no easy task, and now the time has come to see if she has met the high expectations of not just the NAHS populace, but the community itself. Was this performance a new triumph in our hallowed theatre’s halls, or a smudge on our magnificent record of award winning productions?
When it was first announced that the Fall production was to be “Li’l Abner”, I honestly had some doubts. How can you simply go from classics like “A Christmas Carol” and “Singin in the Rain”, to a musical based off a comic of hillbillies! I’m glad to say that my first judgments were completely wrong. “Li’l Abner” turned out to have the comical feel of “Singin in the Rain” added with some serious romanticism from “A Christmas Carol”. This musical has something for everyone in the family!
The number one thing I adored about this year’s production is that the actor’s really seemed perfectly in character to their Dogpatch alter-ego, while adding a little dash of local humor that blends in perfectly with the dialogue. Whether it is being a caveman doing Gangnam Style, to poking fun at NAHS rivals Providence and Floyd Central, the dear citizens of Dogpatch can sure make an audience roar with laughter. As a tip, it is a good idea to not just focus on the main characters, because you never know what you will see among the other actors. The character’s Mammy and Pappy Yokum, played by Hanae Togami(10) and Gylf Forsberg(9), are hilarious with the stereotypical inane bickering of an old couple, but in what I perceive to be the most hilarious, must be General Bullmoose, played by the ever eccentric Jacob Domalewski(10). Playing the antagonist of the musical, Domalewski roars with his Southern Antebellum-era Officer’s voice almost yelling in every piece of dialogue, occasionally toning down the volume to lament on his childish dream of owning all the money in the world. Talking to some audience members afterwards, it was safe to say that Mr. Domalewski’s performance was a favorite amongst all age groups. Other notables are senior’s David Kane (Li’l Abner), Hannah Hartman (Daisy Mae), and John Tolbert (Earthquake McGoon). Kane gives off a major egocentric and simple minded mood, while Hartman plays a love stricken girl who only gets heartbreak in return from Abner, all while fending off the giant Earthquake McGoon’s marital advances.
The musical number has a few standout moments, and even some songs that will be inscribed in your mind for days. My favorite was “Jubilation T. Cornpone,” a wondrous and humorous piece telling us of the great farce of a Confederate officer, which will have the chorus going on in your mind for hours afterwards. Hannah Hartman sticks out vocally doing many slow songs, between her love struck and saddened self, my favorite being “Namely You”.
Overall the production was amazing, with a few minor hiccups with technical things, like curtain mishaps and lighting malfunctions. But I wouldn’t miss out on Ms. Cisto’s grand opening production. With “Li’l Abner” playing on November 16 and 17, there is no excuse to miss this comedic masterpiece brought to you by NAHS’s theatre arts program! In the words of Mammy Yokum,”I HAVE SPOKEN!!!”