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Holiday Mirth: BCC theater students present two comedies

Barton Community College theater students will fill the rolls of stage manager, cast member, director and everything in between as they present their annual student production at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21-22 in the Fine Arts Auditorium.  
This year the students will present “Deck the Halls with Barton Theatre,” which will feature two short, holiday-themed stories with comedic tones: “The Magical Christmas of Mistletoe, Kansas” by Rosemary Willhide and William P. Johnson, and “Steal-A-Clause,” which was written by student co-director Dallas Munden’s father, Rob.
Directors Munden and Cora Borrell said the decision to choose these plays was left entirely up to the students.
“We wanted to have a show that was funny, but also something that gave you a ‘Christmas feel,’” Munden said.  “A Piece of my Heart was so deep and serious; we wanted to have a lighter tone for our audience.”
“There is humor for all ages,” Borell added.
Presented with special permission by Samuel French Publishing, “The Magical Christmas of Mistletoe, Kansas,” is a melodrama published by the Mosley Street Melodrama from Wichita and presents the story of a down-on-its-luck Kansas town during the holiday season through a series of humorous melodramas.
“Steal-a-Clause” tells the heartwarming story of a little girl and her experience with burglars on Christmas Eve.
“I think it’s really cool that I get to act in and direct a show that my father wrote,” Munden said. “I think it will be really rewarding to watch him in the audience and very cool for him to see it played out.”
 Both agreed that they have enjoyed being directors, but that the job comes with pros and cons.
“Having the opportunity to direct helps you know how much communication it takes and it’s a lot more work than people think and you have to be on top of your game because everybody else is following your lead,” Borell said. “So it definitely teaches leadership as well.”
“It has given me a feel for what she (Barton theatre director Erin Renard) has to go through, and it makes me respect that more as an actress,” Munden said.
The student production is deliberately built into the class curriculum to teach students what it’s like to be on the other side of the stage Renard said.
“My favorite part is empowering the students and observing them grow into leaders,” Renard said.  “Ultimately, the students learn the reality of mounting a production from the ground up.  The greatest challenge for the students is switching from the role of student to the role of director or production manager.   They have to earn the respect of the other students immediately in order to get the most from them.”
Cast member Hannah Maddy said the student production is another positive element of her experience in the theatre department at Barton.
“Theatre is really treated in a very professional way here,” she said.  “As actors, we want to produce the best quality of shows and Erin really strives to do that.   I think it really prepares us.  I’m going on to a four-year school for theatre, so my experiences at Barton will be great preparation for that.”
Admission is free for all students with an ID (high school or college); admission for non-students, $5; tickets available at the ticket window on nights of performance; doors open at 7 p.m.  All seats are general admission.