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Amboy High School students Austin Shugars, Brianna Henkel, and Kelton Schwamberger rehearse the fall play “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” The play will be performed this weekend. George Howe/Amboy News

AMBOY — After last season’s cancellation due to COVID concerns, the Amboy High School drama department is getting ready to cue the lights and raise the curtain for this year’s fall play entitled, “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” This science fiction- horror film re-released in 1959 after a name change from “Grave Robbers from Outer Space,” tell the storyline of concerns by extraterrestrials who seek to stop humanity from creating a doomsday weapon that could destroy the universe. The movie written and directed by Ed Wood featured Hollywood veterans such as Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Lyle Talbot.

Under the direction of Debra Cleary, Amboy High School’s art teacher, the 13 member cast has been holding rehearsals for the last 9 weeks (eerily coincidental) in preparation for the three performances on Nov. 12-14 in the school’s auditorium. 

During the audition process, the student’s didn’t try out for a particular role, but were given a script. A UFO episode of the “Brady Bunch” was used. Then Cleary and Assistant Director Avery Kerley decided who would play which character. In this case, most of the actors play more than one role. 

Many in the film critic world consider it to be the worst movie ever made, but that didn’t stop Cleary from putting on the stage adaptation. 

“It’s one of my all time favorite terrible movies,” said Cleary. “We found out that it was a play and felt that it would be fun to do it.” 

With 9 years of directing experience under her belt, Cleary and assistant director Kerley, the Amboy Junior High Band and Choir teacher, realized that in year’s past, the stage sets were quite elaborate making the scene changes a little more difficult. So, this time around they were out to adjust that. 

“This show is a bit unique for us because we now have three sets, two of which have wheels and are two sided helping us minimize the times in between scenes,” said Kerley. 

This two act production that runs about an hour in length will also take on a new and different look and feel as all of the actors, stage hands, and the audience will be required to wear a protective mask. According to 9th grader (there it is again) Brianna Henkel who portrays a stewardess and Colonel Sanders, the masks have certainly been a challenge. 

“The masks have made it a lot harder to talk and be heard and that’s been disappointing,” she explained. “Certainly, some of the dramatics and facial expressions will be taken out of our performances as a result. Mrs. Cleary has stressed how important our tone of voice and eye expressions will be. I feel that it’s made us better actors,” she added.   

The three shows are usually well supported by the community. 

“We will be close to capacity for the performances which is always nice to see,” said Cleary.

Show times are 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m., matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. 

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