‘Sweet’ new melodrama to open

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

‘Sweet’ new melodrama to openPictured: Seth Tait as “Cadbury Swindle” and Lacy Roberts as “Ada Sourball” conspire during a scene in the upcoming melodrama. — Photo by Laura Austin

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“Our primary goal is always to make sure the audience has a good time. Life gets serious, and sometimes you just need to laugh.”

With that in mind, Heather Weaver will direct the middle schoolers of Christian Home Educators of Ridgecrest in “Someone Save My Baby, Ruth,” opening soon.

The rollicking, pun-filled showdown between an old-west villain and hero will take place at Crossroads Community Church. The show begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 8 and 9, at 6 p.m, with a matinee scheduled at noon Saturday, Feb. 10.

While CHER’s annual melodramas have been popular with local audiences, the productions also play into the mission of the group for rich, comprehensive, parent-led education.

“It is our intent to edify and strengthen relationships for our children and families by providing prayer, support and encouragement to one another.”

Participating families meet once a week to bring students together for interactive opportunities in a range of subjects.

For middle schoolers, drama provides not only a creative outlet, but also a training ground for public speaking and presentation, collaborative working and more.

“There are so many skills theater teaches you,” said Weaver. “But our melodramas are also important, because that’s our fund-raiser for our high-school productions.”

Among CHER’s high schoolers working behind the scenes of the melodrama is 17-year-old Dylan Menzel, who starred in last year’s production about President Lincoln.

“My responsibilities include making sure the play runs smoothly when the director is not available to lead, playing the music on cue, prompting actors and actresses on their lines and anything else that comes up,” said Dylan.

“I really like being behind the scene. I love being on stage, too, but maybe more as a supporting cast member than as the center of attention.”

Dylan said that being involved in CHER’s theater program has helped push him out of his comfort zone and refined his skills in working with a team.

“It’s also an amazing outlet for getting together with other homeschoolers,” he said. “We all spend time focusing on our own studies, but it’s nice to have projects that allow you to interact with others.”

Those bonds seep into the story, he noted. “This play is really good, but I think we made it even better because we got to add a lot of our own jokes.”

Although Weaver’s five children are now grown — and in some cases raising their own young families — she and her husband underwrite the cost of the middle-school productions so that they can focus on the performance element. By keeping expenses to a minimum, the program also has a fund to stage more ambitious high-school offerings.

“I remember when my children were young, and we were homeschooling our children. Sometimes money was tight, and asking for money for costumes would have been difficult for us.” So the Weavers continue their ministry through contributions of time and funds.

“Melodrama is awesome. Even if you make a mistake, the genre allows you to play into it. So there is a lot less stress, and it makes a great training ground for the kids,” said Weaver.

“I love spending time with them, watching them grow and develop and gain confidence. The kids have fun working together to tell the story. And the audience gets to interact with the story.”

Melodrama traditionally breaks the fourth wall that typically separates an audience from the cast. Viewers get to boo the villain, cheer the hero and throw popcorn at the actors every chance they get.

“I mean, really, how many opportunities to you get to go out and throw food at people? This is a great way for the whole family to have fun together.”

Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for children, military and seniors for the dinner theater, with a reduced price of $10 and $8 for dessert only. Tickets are available at the door, Red Rock Books and the Lighthouse on Balsam Street.

Story First Published: 2018-01-26