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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Jayhawk cast to present Hitchcock-inspired play this week

Updated: May 25

Cast of the Jayhawk-Linn Senior/Junior High School play this year includes, front row from left, Abbi Meyer, Emily Johnson, Lily Meyer, Danyka Pointer, Arfa Haq, Sexton Croan, Carlos Sanchez; second row, Hazel Vaughn, Jade Sublette, Aiden Stark, Ryland Summers, Bettie Watts, Rilee Watts, Bailie Wilson; back row, Camden Wood, Dallas Edmondson, Cooper Snyder, Brody Clark, and Marlyn Gandara-Sanchez. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

It’s Monday evening and Dawn Carlson is taking photos of a fairly large cast of students who will be in Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play. The play, based on a radio broadcast, will be presented this Thursday and Saturday, May 16 and May 18, at 6:30 p.m.

Carlson, who is sponsor of the Jayhawk-Linn Senior/Junior High School play, takes a group photo of all of the students smiling. Then she tells them to get into character, and while several cast members strike poses, others seem a little confused.

“That’s right,” she reminds herself, “Half of them will be ‘dead.’”

The play focuses on the work of Alfred Hitchcock, a film and television producer of such thriller and horror movies as The Birds, Vertigo, Rear Window, and Psycho, as well as a weekly television series in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“Spies, murder, love, and other trademarks of Alfred Hitchcock come to life in the style of a 1940s radio broadcast of the master of suspense's earlier films,” reads a blurb from the publisher of the work by author Joe Landry. “With ‘The Lodger,’ ‘Sabotage’ and ‘The 39 Steps,’ (the play) is a triple feature, complete with vintage commercials, that recreates a daring train chase, a serial killer's ominous presence, and a devastating explosion through the magic of live sound effects.”

JLHS senior Emily Johnson, who has now appeared in the school play every year during her high school career, says she will take on the roles of four characters in this production. She was hesitant to call the play a comedy, because it isn’t. Nor was she willing to classify it as drama, because it does have some light moments.

“It has a little bit of everything,” said Danyka Pointer, a senior who will be the narrator for the play. She said the commercials, throwbacks to the 1940s and ‘50s, offered laughs to break up the intensity of the more dramatic parts.

Pointer, who has also appeared in the play each of her high school years, said she enjoyed appearing in the school’s theatrical productions.

“It allows me to be myself, and let my guard down a little bit,” she explained. She characterized herself as not very outspoken except when she is around her friends.

While that will certainly change this week in her role as narrator, it is sure to change as she starts at Pittsburg State University this fall to seek a degree in elementary education, a career where being outspoken is part of the job.

Johnson’s career choice may be a little quieter. She plans to go into medical coding. However, she has enjoyed her turn at acting enough to be interested in continuing in the theater – at least as a hobby.

“It challenges me, and gives me something to do,” she explains. But as much as anything, being in theatrical productions makes for many fond memories, particularly those memories of new relationships forged with her fellow actors.

Arfa Haq, an exchange student from Afghanistan, also commented on how she has enjoyed working with the large cast of students this spring. Also a senior, Haq said that back home the plays tend to cast fewer actors, but she liked the excitement a larger cast brings to the stage.

As the high school careers of those seniors close out, Vintage Hitchcock will be one of the good memories they will take with them in the next phase of their lives.

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