Jennifer Von Ohlen
DASSEL, COKATO, MN For the first time in 13 years, Dassel-Cokato High School will be presenting a spring play.
Performances will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, and Friday, April 22 at the Performing Arts Center (PAC).
The play, “Theo and Bugsby,” was written by the cast’s director, James Frickstad, inspired by his love for the comic series, “Calvin and Hobbes.”
The story presents the character, Theo, in his later years reflecting on events of his youth. In particular, he recalls his imaginary friends, whom he interacted with more than actual people, and the consequences he faced for it.
Frickstad’s work portrays both the comedic and touching moments of growing up and growing pains, such as having imaginary friends, being teased, and experiencing first crushes.
“Theater is done so people feel things and talk about things,” commented Frickstad. “I hope the audience is touched by at least one part.”
Frickstad described the play as having two morals: acknowledging we all wanted to grow up, but did not realize we were doing it everyday; and challenging what it means to be normal.
Henry Von Ohlen, performing as the younger memory-version of Theo, hopes audience members will, “relate to their childhood and what role they might have played during their elementary and middle school years, and that being different isn’t so bad.”
Since 2003, DC has only offered fall and winter drama-related extracurricular activities. However, with the program’s reputation for talent and its stellar success with the fall musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” and winter one act, “Flowers for Algernon,” earlier this year, Frickstad believed a spring theater opportunity was necessary.
With the one act competition ending in mid-February, students have to wait seven months before taking the stage again.
“It’s important to keep the acting up and rehearsals going, especially when we’re competing with bigger schools during one act,” Frickstad explained.
He also believes a spring play is more inviting to students who do not like singing to a crowd or working in a competitive atmosphere. He acknowledged this is possibly the last show for many seniors, as some of them will not have the opportunity to act again.
Since “Theo and Bugsby” has never been performed before, student Isaac Olson (playing the older, reflective Theo) finds this particular production to be a unique learning experience as the cast, technicians, and director discover what works well and what does not.
Natalie Dahlin, who plays Theo’s mother, believes the play has the ability to draw on the audience members’ childhood experiences and imaginations.
“You can do whatever you want with the show,” said Dahlin. “They can change the imaginary friends, make it special to them.”
Ethan Langemo, performing as Theo’s dad, anticipates the play will also appeal to other directors and their creative visions.
“There’s no description for the imaginary friends, so it’s very flexible and compatible to any opportunity the director has for the show,” explained Langemo. “I can see [the play] going big.”