by Adam Gruenewald
Highlighted by a creative, and very blue, play with two alternate endings, the Central Fine Arts Showcase will feature a variety of artistic endeavors, all in one night.
The fifth annual event, set for Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. which will conclude in advance of the girls’ basketball game against Sibley East at 7:30 p.m., will include a one-act play titled “The girl who was asked to turn Blue,” written by playwright Ev Miller through Dramatic Publishing as well performances by the speech team, paintings from Jonica Marshall’s class, pieces from woodshop classes of Paul Ruud and Jim Mesik, a duet performance by Kayla McCracken and Judy Larson of Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound” accompanied by organizer Brian Isles on guitar.
Isles helped start the event when he first started teaching at Central to showcase all the talent at the school.
“When I started here I was always worried the event wouldn’t catch on and we wouldn’t have the interest levels,” said Isles. “But we are drawing huge numbers that want to be involved.”
“The girl who was asked to turn Blue,” tells the story of Tracey Logan, 16, who finds herself unexpectedly in a world where everyone is blue. Not only are all the others dressed in blue and have blue skin, but they have numbers instead of names.
“They are all part of this different world, different society where everybody is blue and nobody is different,” said Isles.
The individuals who are blue then encourage Tracey to be like them while Tracey shares her individuality.
“It’s a morality play,” said Isles. “It’s a take on conformity versus free will.”
Central students will present both endings of the play, one where Tracey accepts the society and one where she fights it.
“We want to do that so that the audience can watch the play, see either ending and determine what is a happy ending,” said Isles. “It widely depends on the audience and what they think happiness is. Is is conformity or trying to strike out on your own?”
Isles said his mostly female cast, with just two men in the cast, were up to the challenge of the morality genre.
“It’s certainly in the shift in the make-up of our stage,” said Isles.
With a fairly simplistic set, yet blue costumes and blue makeup providing most of the atmosphere, preparation for “The girl who was asked to turn Blue” started soon after Central theater wrapped “Plaza Suite” in the fall with auditions taking place soon after.
Among the principles of the ensemble cast are seniors Mikayla Eshleman (Tracey Logan) as well as other seniors Molly Miller (411), Madi Kling (918) and Tori Stacken who are among the blue community members.
Eshleman, who has acted in several other plays, said she is enjoying the show and her first big lead role.
“It’s strange because you look at them,” she said, taking on the role of her character as the only non-blue character. “This is definitely the biggest role I’ve had. It’s weird having other people really rely on you for lines and pickups and for motivation, but it’s been good.”
Eshleman, who plans to attend the University of Minnesota to pursue dental hygiene, added she might also take part in the CentreStage summer show as well prior to heading off for college.
Fellow senior Molly Miller plays 411, a blue character who begins to question her role in the blue society and said she likes the play.
“It has a really deep message and the themes are a lot deeper than other plays that we’ve done,” said Miller.
As one of the key characters, Miller said she was able to take on the challenge of the role.
“I was really nervous at first because I have so many lines and didn’t think I could memorize it,” she said. “I just kind of took it day by day.”
Miller, who plans to attend MSU-Mankato and is undecided, has been in drama since 10th grade.
Fellow senior Madi Kling plays 918, one of the conforming blue characters in the play.
“I’m not being used to being conformed,” she said of her role. “Usually all of our characters are different and when they are the same, it’s just very different.”
Kling also plans to attend MSU-Mankato and pursue a career in the arts, probably graphic design.
“I feel like I’m really good at art and I want to express myself through it,” she said.
The fifth annual Central Fine Arts Showcase is set for Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. and will conclude in advance of the girls’ basketball game against Sibley East at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.