By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN Competition for Dassel-Cokato High School’s one-act play is in full swing, and participants are hoping their roles in “Bus Stop” will take them all the way to state.
Set at a bus stop diner outside Kansas City in the 1950s, “Bus Stop” is written by William Inge and is a classic in American theatre, according to the play’s director, Robert Kampa.
It’s a story of humor, warmth, and charm combined with a colorful cast of characters.
The cast of seven is divided among veterans and newcomers including Katie Klugow, who has moved from behind the scenes to front and center.
Other cast members include Megan Niemela, Quinton Barnes, Ruby Bauman, Cody Ewald, Cody Harmening, and Ryan Peterson.
The entire action of the play takes place in the diner during a snowstorm that has left a bus stranded overnight.
The first passenger to enter the diner is a night club singer, played by Bauman, from Kansas City. She confides that a young cowboy, played by Ryan Peterson, has abducted her and has intentions to take her back to his Montana ranch and marry her.
“When the cowboy enters the diner, arrogantly confirming his intention despite her protests, the story of their unlikely romance unfolds,” Kampa explained.
He went on to say that “the play presents the audience with a tender, warm-hearted snapshot of a bygone era and the simple, sweet joy of love blossoming unexpectedly between two people despite their differences.”
“The show is very fun and energetic, and you get a nice balance of comedy and drama within it,” Klugow said. “It’s a different kind of show, but you learn to love all the characters just by how contrasting they all are.”
First-time actor Quinton Barnes said one-act has been a positive experience for him and he has learned so much from both Robert and his wife, Patti.
“The one-act cast feels like a big family,” Barnes said. “We all have fun every rehearsal, and our friendships are still growing.”
Kampa said the student actors are “energetic, dedicated, and form an ensemble that is extremely supportive.”
“Creatively, they work together very well,” he added.
“. . . We’ve grown really close to each other, which I think has really helped us to become our characters on stage,” Klugow said.
As far as the set, veteran actor Cody Harmening said it’s really fun this year. “It’s a big cafe, but it surprises me how fast we can put it together,” he commented.
For competitions, the cast and crew are timed and can only take 10 minutes to set up the stage or they will be disqualified.
The set, which was designed and constructed by Phil Haataja, fits into a 10-by-10-foot square when collapsed and then rolled off the stage.
The one-act crew consists of Mariah Quincy, Sam Carlson, Nathan Hansen, Scott Jarvie, Tyler Meyer, Skylar Peterson, and Leif Torgersen.
They are also timed on the production itself, which can only be 35 minutes.
For Kampa, the biggest challenge was cutting the full-length three-act play into one act.
The first and second place teams from 2AA subsections at Delano Jan. 28 advance to section finals Saturday, Feb. 4, starting at 11 a.m., at Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center. A total of four teams will compete. The event is free and open to the public.
The one-act play that places first at finals, will advance to state competition Friday, Feb. 10 at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on the campus of St. Catherine’s University.
To catch the show
A public performance of “Bus Stop” will be Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center.
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted will also perform its one-act play, “Ghostly Trinkets” by Charron Contival.
Everyone is welcome and admittance is free.