Sulphur Springs High School theater arts students won the district One-Act Play contest Tuesday with their hysterically comedic performance of “The History of Tom Jones,” which advances the troupe to the Area One-Act Play competition next month.
The school opened its Sunday afternoon rehearsal to friends and community members, who were kept in stitches at the hilarious enactment of the Charlotte Brown play, a tale of a hapless young man’s many misadventures that end with him being absolved of alleged crimes and with a big secret revealed.
Most in attendance would agree that from costuming to facial and body expression to timing and lighting, the cast and crew were on the stick and appeared to be having a ball doing it Sunday afternoon.
With only one or two minor flubs, which they made fit the scene, the audience got a good workout laughing nearly the entire length of the play and left with smiles on their faces, a bit lighter in spirit and with praise for the cast and crew.
"They performed even better than they did Sunday,” SSHS theater arts instructor and “The History of Tom Jones” director Dawn Doyle-Jones said Wednesday of the students’ performance at the District One-Act Play Contest Tuesday. “They won district!”
Each member of the cast plays at least two characters, and at least a third of the cast plays three parts each. Six cast members and at least one crew member also earned individual accolades from the district One-Act Play judges.
Triston Pullen, who pulls double-duty as Henry Fielding and Squire Allworthy (who agrees to take care of Tom when he returns home to find a child born out-of-wedlock), was named Best Actor. Pullen does a good job pulling off the oblivious yet benevolent gentleman who becomes guardian to two boys, one illegitimate, the other his nephew. Fielding narrates hap-
less Tom’s tale of misadventures. Brandon Bryant, Wesley Harrison and Jacob Rost earned Honorable Mention All-Star Cast honors. Bryant is believable as Squire Western, neighbor of Squire Allworthy and father of Sophia Western (played by Lexi McCaig), who is the love interest of Tom Jones. He and Pullen do a great job playing opposite one another as
Allworthy and Western, and he’s hilarious in his pursuit of Jones and Sophia. Bryant also stands in as a servant in at least one scene in which Squire Western is not on stage.
Rost as Tom Jones tumbles, gives chase, is pursued and stands trial in great slapstick fashion; he also plays a servant. Wesley Harrison is billed as Partridge, Sophia’s horse, servant and highwayman — but it is in the latter role which he shines. He is a riot as the misshapen highwayman, whose efforts to rob various passing members of the cast are foiled time and again. No fierce swashbuckler or sharpshooter here, just a somewhat timorous thief better at running than fighting — but Harrison’s portrayal of the “villain” receiving his licks is so hilarious the highwayman is a crowd favorite.
Jenni Johnson and Liam Pollard were named to the All-Star Cast. Johnson plays Mrs. Waters as well as Jenny Jones, who at the beginning of the play warns Allworthy he’ll regret
throwing her out as she has knowledge that will one day be important to him. And indeed, at the end of the play she does a
marvelous job in her “I told you so” role, which ultimately saves title character Tom Jones from the noose. Pollard took on three roles, Captain Blifil, Blifil and a servant. He carries the show. He portrays Blifil, son of Squire Allworthy’s sister Bridget who is raised alongside Tom Jones at Allworthy’s residence, much like a sibling. And like a younger brother, Blifil
often taunts Tom Jones and puts in motion plans to get him in trouble, generally aggravate and be a thorn in Jones’ side. Pollard’s antics and buffoonery as Blifil carry the play.
Also earning special recognition was Emily Reynolds; she received the Honor Tech Award for her work on the crew.
Although seven individuals were singled out, the rest of the cast and crew are also to be commended for their contributions, without which the play would not have advanced to the area One-Act Play contest April 11 at Dr. John D. Horn High School in Mesquite.
Completing the cast were Lexi McCaig as Sophia Western and a servant; Jade Ausbrooks as Bridget and Honour; Anna McDonald as Miss Western and a servant; Reilly Hale as Lady Bellaston and a servant; Christian Dicus as Wilkins, the innkeeper’s wife and Lady Bellaston’s maid; Logan McGraw as Square, Western’s horse and a servant; Peyton Howard Thwackum, Innkeeper and hangman; Carson McIllwain as Judge Dowling, Tom’s horse and a servant; and Mikayla Jones as Harriet Fitzpatrick and a servant.
Understudies were RileyJack Bridges, Kye Johnson, Danelle Parks and Tamra Rushing.
The general public will have an opportunity April 6 to catch the play during a free performance at 6 p.m. at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.
For more photos from Sunday's performance, visit the News-Telegram Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151526900573415.1073741829.80900838414&type=1
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