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SRRHS theatre presents
the hilarious musical, Li’l Abner
by William Smith

Howdy folks! Welcome to Dogpatch, “where typical folks do things in a typical way.”  Yes sir, townsfolk here seldom take baths, comb their hair, or even work. 

But unemployment and flickin’ flies isn’t the only end to boredom in this little town. No sir, as 100% red-blooded Americans, the folks from Dogpatch have a responsibility to make our country proud and save it from disaster.

You see, the gambling industry in Las Vegas is being threatened, and it’s up to Li’l Abner, Daisy Mae, and all the loveable characters of Dogpatch, to not only save their hometown, but to save their traditional Sadie Hawkins Day celebration from being forever cancelled.

“Li’l Abner,” the hilarious Broadway-hit comedy, will be presented at Sedona Red Rock High School, for two weekends in April. This fun-for the-whole-family musical is based on the comic strip characters created by Al Capp.

The show is presented by the SRRHS drama department and produced by teacher Matthew Kennedy, who last year produced and directed a phenomenal rendition of Grease.

“The amount of talent I’m blessed to work with is unbelievable.” said Kennedy.“ Some of these students could do this professionally, now. You’re bound to see a couple of them on stage, TV, or film in the future.”

The show stars Nate Waggoner, Chrissy Merolo, Cam Corbin, Nicole Cushing, William, Dibatista, Austin Combs, Allie Olson, and Colleen Holeman; and features a cast of more than 30 students of SRRHS.

Waggoner, a freshman, takes center stage as Abner.  “His acting range and maturity is mind-boggling,” said Kennedy. Waggoner played Bo Decker, the lead role in SRRHS’s fall production of Bus Stop. 

Chrissy Merolo is Daisy Mae. A senior, the adorable blonde Merolo has a spectacular voice. “Chrissy’s tone and range are world class,” said SRRHS music teacher Pat Schlotfeldt, the show’s musical director. Merolo, who has set her hopes on vocal performance at Stanford University this fall, had a lead role in last year’s production of Grease.

Also returning from last year’s cast of Grease are Cam Corbin and Nicole Cushing, as Pappy and Mammy Yokum;  Allie Olson, as Appassionata; and Colleen Holeman, as Evil Eye Fleagle.

SRRHS is also happy to have on board some extraordinarily talented newcomers to the department and the school.  Austin Combs, a senior transfer student from Dearborn Heights, Michigan, plays General Bullmoose. “Austin’s voice, looks, acting talent, and drive could make him a star some day,” said Kennedy.

Other newcomers to the SRRHS stage: William Gameson fills the enormous shoes of Earthquake McGoon, and Meredith DiBattista is extraordinarily dynamic as Marryin’ Sam.

Martha Edwards, a local dance instructor, choreographed the show, which features a number of funny and playful songs and dances. “Martha has more energy than a teenager - the kids absolutely love her,”  said Schlotfeldt, who celebrates her 25th year of directing musicals.

The cast of Li’L Abner is composed of all area students and those who are not actors are busy working on other aspects of the show.  The set was constructed by the theater technology class, assisted by Geoffrey Worrsom’s art class. Even the lighting design will be done by students under the close supervision of Kennedy.

Last season’s production of Grease was an absolute success and with the number of returning actors, Li’l Abner should be delightful. The show runs April 11, 12, 13, 18, and 19, at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on April 14, at 3 p.m.

For information about tickets, call     204-6726.

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