One Act Play Wins State

Minnetonka Theatre

Minnetonka Theatre

Joey Cutts, Staff Writer

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The Minnetonka Theatre program is widely known as one of the best in the state, often boasting sold out crowds that gather for each seasonal musical. With incredible crew members, actors, and directors, there are countless things working together to make this happen, making it a great source of pride for many Minnetonka students and parents in the community. During each season, you will surely hear talk of the most recent musical.
But what about the other parts of the theater program? A recent Minnetonka Theatre performance of “The Normal Heart” has people talking about a side of the program that many are not as familiar with: the One Act Play. These annual productions are very different from the musicals. Limited to just a single act in 35 minutes, the One Act plays are generally focused on spoken dialogue instead of singing. Participants compete at a regional and state level with other high schools.
For the 2017 One Act play, the Minnetonka Theatre program produced an adaptation of “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer.To fit the time constraint, snippets from the original (1985) were bound together. Mostly from the perspective of activist Ned Weeks, the play centers around the early 1980’s HIV-AIDS epidemic in New York City and its impact on the gay community.
Many students in the One Act Play frequently appear in the musicals and note a stark contrast between the two different types of performances. Cast member Amanda Tahnk-Johnson, ‘18, found it interesting to make the transition between musical and play because of the One Act, “requir[ed] more maturity, the play’s serious subject matter was a different pace than the light-hearted musicals.”
When preparing for the school performance in front of students and parents, Tahnk-Johnson wasn’t sure how audience members would react. She was surprised to see how much it meant to the audience, they received a standing ovation, and some were even crying.
“It was great to tell the story of something so historically underrepresented, yet so significant,” she said.
Another cast member, class president Rob Dow, ‘17, found the play to be an eye-opening experience. Dow says that he found the biggest challenge to be “understanding the complexities of our characters and their situations.”
Not only did Minnetonka’s production of “The Normal Heart” raise awareness around the often uncomfortable subject matter, but it also raised money for Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that delivers meals to people living with a life-threatening disease such as HIV/AIDs.
Additionally, the students received first place at regionals and first place at the state competitions on February 9th. Putting together a powerful performance that handled complex issues with ease, this year’s One Act play was unafraid to make its audience and cast members think, proving itself to be a distinguished component of the Minnetonka Theatre program.

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