Hillsboro High School will present a play, “The Great Cross Country Race,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the HHS auditorium.
The play is an adaptation of one of Aesop’s fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” There are 18 students in the cast, including Graham Pankratz and Molly Wiebe as the tortoise and the hare, respectively.
Bob Woelk and Dustin Dalke are sharing director’s duties. Woelk is primarily responsible for stage direction, with Dalke focusing on set, makeup, and costume direction.
While there are many animal characters in the play, there are also some humans, but because the humans and animals can’t understand each other, the human dialogue needed to be translated into another language.
When Woelk was a student and later teacher at Goessel, the school put on the play twice with the human dialogue in Low German. Woelk couldn’t find a script from either of those productions, but German exchange student and cast member Laura Angresius was able to translate the human parts into German.
“Getting our students to speak German convincingly has been interesting,” Woelk said.
The biggest challenge preparing for the play has been finding times to rehearse. Most cast members are involved in many other activities, an issue pleasantly aggravated by the girls’ basketball team’s advancement to state.
The play was written specifically to entertain children, so even during the many scene changes, there is action either onstage or in the aisles of the audience.
With so many animal characters, Dalke and volunteers are making elaborate costumes to make the cast members genuinely recognizable as the animals they play.
“We’re trying to make the animals look good as the center of attention,” Dalke said.
“These kids may not be recognizable by the time they’re in full makeup,” Woelk added.
The full cast includes Pankratz, Wiebe, Angresius, Karina Torres, Karyn Leihy, Bailey Kaufman, Daniele Melton, Meredith Lamkin, Peyton Loewen, Nick Ediger, Amy Bartel, Riley Loewen, Taylor Carlson, David Nelson, Kateland Litchfield, Erin Wiebe, Claire Heyen, and Lexie Kruse.
Kalie Siebert, Josh Siebert, Katie Kliewer, Rachel Schneider, Erin Winter, and Tena Loewen are on the crew behind the scenes.
Tickets are available in advance at the high school office or at the performances.