Noblesville High School to perform murder mystery play Thursday and Friday in auditorium
When the curtain rises for Noblesville High School’s spring production, “Rehearsal for Murder,” a number of new and young faces will take the stage Thursday and Friday.Director Susan Nieten said the murder mystery is the first time many students have acted in public.
“It’s the youngest cast I’ve worked with in some time,” she said. “I’m excited for the years to come.”
The cast is also larger than the usual spring play. In the past years, Nieten has had six actors – typically juniors and seniors. This year she has 14 and just half are upperclassmen.
“I have a lot of sophomores in theater class, and I’m impressed with the talent,” Nieten said. “Plays are my passion because that’s what I grew up doing.”
“I’m so honored to be a part of this cast and as an underclassman is mind blowing,” said sophomore Karlee Kopp, who plays Monica Wells. “I love theater but have never done a murder mystery before. I want to see how the audience will respond to the scenario.”
The play focuses on Alex Dennison, a playwright preparing for the first reading of his new play. The actors, producer and director connected with the show come onto the stage and tension grows as the audience discovers that everyone connected with this play was involved with another play by Dennison. At its opening night, exactly a year ago and in this same theatre, the beautiful leading lady, who was also the playwright’s fiancée, was murdered. As these people start the new play, startling connections to the murder begin to unfold and the growing tension reaches the boiling point with surprising revelations, countered by others even more surprising.
“We haven’t done a whodunit for a spring play. I’ve been thinking about it for a few years,” Nieten said.
“When I read it I didn’t figure it out. It kept me guessing,” she said. “There are different possibilities of who did it. It’s a clever murder mystery that’s well written.”
“The show in general is simple but not simple. It’s funny and dark,” said junior Bridget Dunklau, who plays Bella Lamb. “I really like my character, she’s really funny,”
Unlike the fall musical, the spring plays have always taken place in the Large Group Instruction stage. However, because of the play’s setting, the performance will be held in the auditorium.
“I like that it takes place in a theater so we can use the theater as the set,” Nieten said.
The larger stage also presents challenges to the actors.
“You have to project more since we don’t use microphones,” sophomore Sam Fields said. “When we get close we have to make sure we don’t lose volume.”
Fields, who is making his high school acting debut, portrays Dennison. He is excited about being the lead as a sophomore, but knows there are “a lot of expectations to live up to.”
“I want to prove people wrong. That you don’t need to be a senior or junior to be a lead,” he said. “There was a freshman girl (Hannah Nave) as lead in the (fall) musical.”
Fields has previously acted in Noblesville Middle School’s “Seussical Jr.” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.” “Rehearsal for Murder” is his first mystery.
“My character is kind of a fun guy. He seems a little boring, but he turns out to be a little cuckoo,” Fields said.
Amber Mills is one of just three seniors in the play.
“With the shows I’m in, usually I’ve been the youngest. It’s different being in a different role. I really enjoy it and giving advice to underclassmen,” she said.
Mills last performed on stage in the spring play her freshman year.
“I wanted to do it again. I thought it was my last chance,” she said. “I like being someone else and telling the story.”
While she hasn’t been on stage, Mills has worked as the props manager for the fall musicals. She continues that role in “Rehearsal for Murder” in addition to performing as Loretta and a female police officer.
“It’s nice to be able to do double duty,” she said.
Nieten encouraged junior Wesley Topping to take her theater class last summer, which led to his audition.
“It’s my first time in front of an audience. I’m really enjoying it and I love the people and experience,” he said. “Theater class helped me come up with ways to manage my lines.”
Topping said it was a little nerve-racking when he first tried his lines on the big stage but has adjusted.
“The closer it gets to opening night, the more exhilarated and calmer I become,” he said. “I’m more comfortable with my lines and psyched people are coming.”