The students and staff behind Wm. E. Hay Secondary School’s Wildcat Theatre has been hard at work on their latest offering.
Cast and crew have been working on bringing to life a murder-mystery comedy titled Deadline, written by Don Zolidis, since the start of the 2023-24 school year.
“It’s just hilarious,” said thespian and student Joshua Nixon, at a recent practice.
The play centers on eight writers brought to a fog-shrouded North Atlantic Island to write as much of their respective novels as they can in 24 hours. However, what they don’t know is that they are also there to solve a murder with the victim yet to be chosen and the killer still hiding in the shadows.
“It’s the Canadian school premier,” said Nixon.
Nixon is no stranger to the Wildcat Theatre stage; his past performances include Mamma Mia, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, and the Sound of Music.
In Grade 9, during the pandemic, Nixon also tried his hand at directing. He directed a production called Virtual Support Group from Hell, by Jeffrey Harr. It was a production done entirely virtually.
“It was fun to direct it,” said Nixon.
Joining Nixon on stage is another Raider Theatre veteran, Will Snodgrass.
“Being able to go out and perform, just putting all your hard work and hours into making people happy is pretty cool,” said Snodgrass.
Snodgrass says he was always “shy,” but after he witnessed the theatre kids perform Mamma Mia pre-COVID, he knew it was something he wanted to do… then the pandemic hit.
“It gave me plenty of time to be with myself,” said Snodgrass.
“As soon as I could, I was in the next possible play.”
That production would be The Brothers Grimm Spectacularthon, where Snodgrass would perform as Snow White, a dwarf, Hansel, and a prince.
“It was a fun breakout acting role,” said Snodgrass.
Snodgrass joined Nixon on stage during the 2023 performance of The Sound of Music.
”Last year was a really fun show,” said Nixon.
Veteran actress Simone Brugman agreed.
“The bonds you create through it with the people around you, that’s pretty special,” said Brugman.
Brugman has been performing with Wildcat Theatre since Mamma Mia as well.
The 2024 performance in Deadline is going to be a swan song for the trio, who graduate this year.
“The show will be a good chance to meet the new faces and say goodbye to the old ones,” said Snodgrass.
Snodgrass says that coming to the live performance will always be a way to get inspired and support the school’s fine arts board.
He notes a “sense of wonder you don’t get many other places” outside of live performance.
“It’s truly amazing to feel it and be inspired by true hard work devoted by other people,” said Snodgrass.
“Come to the show. You won’t regret it.”
Funds raised from the show go to support the school’s fine arts board, which hosts a number of free activities at the school and in the performing arts centre throughout the school year.
Deadline runs from Feb. 8-10 at the Stettler Performing Arts Centre.
Tickets are available at Well’s Furniture.
~Editor’s note: Only photos of those interviewed for the story are featured to prevent spoilers. The full cast features around a dozen students, plus crew.