”Redeemed” title character Gertie Greene (Kylie Hecker, left) strokes the cheek of Rebecca (Karis Dungan) while acting out a ”romantic” scene at the behest of their fellow drama students during CHS Drama Club's first production of the year, ”The Redemption of Gertie Greene,” presented last Thursday and Saturday. GINI DAVIS - THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE


New Creswell High School Drama Club advisor, Gary Jones introduced the year's first production as ”kind of cheesy, but a lot of fun and it has a great message.”
That message: Be careful about prejudging people based on appearances or gossip. ”Once you get to know them, great things happen,” Jones said.
”The Redemption of Gertie Greene,” written by Taryn Temple and directed by Jones, with assistant director Destin Halvorson, was performed March 8 and 10.
The play centers on a high school drama class – a diverse but close-knit group. Even there, rumors fly about new student Gertie Greene (Kylie Hecker): she's a bully who attacks other students, decks the basketball team, topples teachers' desks and is reportedly no stranger to biker gangs – perhaps even jail. Gertie's fellow students shun her, and even teachers fear her.
But when Gertie is removed from tyrannical history teacher Mrs. Hinklebrick (Karissa Bailor)'s class and planted in drama class, taught by the beloved Mrs. Fillmore (Jade Ledgerwood), several of her fellow thespians gradually reveal the truth behind Gertie's exploits: She did them all in defense of students who were being bullied.
After Nicole (Anastasia Newell), the girl she saved from forceful date Pete Mackelson (Blake Nelson) pens a skit relating those events as a fable, Gertie begins to open up, revealing a gift for acting, and the class begins to respect and embrace her. In the end, it's not only Gertie Greene who is ”redeemed” but those who prejudged and gossiped about her.
Rounding out the cast were Joshua Jenkins (Brian and Basketball Player 1), Jackson Nickell (Curt), Katie McKillop (Alex), Virginia Laird (Rachel), Anna Mercer (Anna and Gossiper 1), Karis Dungan (Rebecca), Arianna Rodman (Shannon), Madison Marrs (Beth), Audrey Hecker (Jessie), Josiah Lee (Jacob and Basketball Player 3), Hugo Taura (CJ and Basketball Player 2), Luke Vaughn (Casey), Halvorson (Mrs. Crannberry), Mallory Jones (young Gertie), Paige Ledgerwood (young Anna) and Audriahna Jones (young girl on bench).
Crew members were Chelsea Jones (makeup); Nathaniel Diamond and Mathieu Foster (light crew), Jesse Hiskey, Hannah Dewitt, Emily Plourde and Lily Powell (stage crew) and Halvorson and Andrew Spriggs (set design).
”I spent 30 years as a coach, but I did a lot of drama when I was younger; from second grade through my senior year I was in a couple of productions per year, and it was an enjoyable experience,” Jones said. ”This year, the opportunity came up for me to step in and work with these amazing kids, and I took it.”
Jones learned a lot putting this first production together – some of it ”through mistakes,” he said. ”But I think these kids did a terrific job.”
Judging by the enthusiastic applause as the players took their bow, the audience agreed.