While styling in his khaki cargo shorts, suspenders and bowtie, Mansfield High School senior Tyler Schmidt will have the opportunity to “show off (his) quirky personality” as Dennis D. Dragon in the school’s upcoming production of "The Reluctant Dragon," he said.
Performances will be held at 7 p.m. April 14 and 3 p.m. April 15 at the Mansfield High School cafeteria/auditorium, 2500 U.S. 71 South in Mansfield, said Eryn Hunt, Mansfield High School drama director. Tickets are $3 for adults and students 8 years old and older. Tickets are $1 for children younger than 8.
The musical is based on the children’s story by Kenneth Grahame, Hunt said. It relates the story of a young lad, Joey Bisfick, played by Zack Lowe, who has a fascination for dragons, she said. On his quest to find a dragon, Bisfick meets Dennis D. Dragon, and “a friendship is formed,” she said.
The audience meets Bisfick playing a video game in his room, not something one would see in the era of dragons, Hunt said. The play combines the Renaissance and modern-day eras, she said.
Schmidt has been involved with musicals at Mansfield the last two years, and he is “absolutely wonderful,” Hunt said. Schmidt has a “wonderful voice” that “carries well,” and he gave a "fabulous" performance in "A Fabulous Day," Hunt said, adding that she is “very lucky” to have such a “talented crew.”
Several members of last year’s cast graduated, making for a smaller group this year, Hunt said of her students. There are several rookies in the production this year, although there are still some experienced members as well, she said. Nevertheless, Hunt said the cast both years has been “absolutely wonderful.” It is “very exciting,” she said.
Senior Shayne Weaver, who played the Queen of Hearts last year in "The Trials of Alice in Wonderland"; Schmidt, who played Tweedle Dee; and Schmidt’s brother, Corey Schmidt, who played Tweedle Dum, “played off of each other very well” last year, Hunt said.
Weaver had so much energy, she really “brought that character to life,” Hunt said. Weaver is playing the mayor of “Tea and Crumpet” in the upcoming production.
“The mayor raps,” Weaver said of her character in this year's production. Wearing “sweat pants, high tops and a crown,” the mayor is truly a modern-day rapper with a title.” Weaver said the mayor “raps about herself.” She is “queen of the castle,” she “doesn’t care what kids think” and she is all about “getting rid of the dragon,” who she views as a nuisance to society, Weaver said.
Lowe, who portrays Joey Bisfick, said he had never acted in a play before; however, he has performed with a choir. Still, it is the “most (he has) ever sang,” he said. There are a “bunch of amazing voices at this school,” Lowe said. The musical affords the opportunity for students to “show (their) voices and (their) talent,” he said.
Although not new to the stage, senior Olivia Boyd said she has “never really acted in a play like this.” She has helped backstage, and she did have two lines from behind the curtains in last year’s performance, she said. Story Lady, the narrator, is a “character more like myself,” Boyd said. She loves to read, and having three younger siblings, Boyd said she is accustomed to reading stories to children, the role she said she plays in the musical.
Sophomore Jessica George plays Sir Lance-A-Little, a “spin-off (character) of Sir Lancelot,” Hunt said. George’s character is “quite entertaining,” Hunt said. The musical is filled with a “lot of humor.”
Hunt’s drama classes are learning, not only the academic side, but also about set design and construction, how theater works and more, Hunt said. Being a small school, the cast and instructors have to “do it all.” Members of the community volunteer their time to assist with the costumes.
While it broadens her role as director, Hunt said, “I enjoy it.” She said she views it as a “learning experience for (herself) as well.” Hunt graduated from Mansfield High School, and she now has the opportunity to see the production from both the student’s side as well as the director’s viewpoint. She enjoys her work immensely, she said.
"The Reluctant Dragon" is a “great performance” with a “great moral lesson” that will appeal to all, from “toddler to grandma,” Hunt said. The play is suitable for all ages without anyone having to worry that it might offend someone, she said.
The “family friendly” production carries with it the moral that “it doesn’t matter who or what you are, you can become friends with anyone," Hunt said.
References to other media, such as "Shrek," Monty Python and "Harry Potter," are made throughout the musical, Schmidt said. “I think it will connect well with the audience.”
“It’s going to be a really good play to watch,” said Weaver. The personalities of the cast all fit the personalities of the characters they are playing, she said. “It’s going to be exciting.”