Photo by Tucker Henderson
The New York Mills Intro to Acting and Media class will present a new murder-mystery show from March 15-16 at the school. This is the first year the class has presented a murder-mystery show as part of their class.

By Tucker Henderson


A mixture of comedy and murder-mystery will be performed on Friday and Saturday as the senior high Intro to Acting and Media class showcases “Alibis” by Peter Kennedy.  ¶  There will be two performances, the first on Friday, March 15 at 6 p.m. and the second on Saturday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m., both performances will be at the New York Mills School Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for school-aged children, and free for those five years old and under. This year’s community play is being directed by Intro to Acting and Media teacher Audrey Caughey.  ¶  “This is my first time doing the community play,” she said. “This is also the first time doing this class. I do a junior high Intro to Acting class for seventh and eighth graders, but this is the first year we’ve had the senior high course, which was requested by students. I was very interested because I enjoy theater and I like directing kids.”

Photos by Tucker Henderson
The New York Mills Intro to Acting and Media class were busy putting the finishing touches on a new murder-mystery show that they will perform this weekend at the school. The student performance will be held from March 15-16 in the school auditorium. 

Without a drama director, the NY Mills drama department had no leader and no way to fulfill a play this year. Caughey wanted the program to continue, but wasn’t able to step into the drama director’s role with her schedule. In a collaboration with the school administration, she decided she was able to direct a community play with practices during the school day.

“I thought this would be a nice way so that we still have a community play,” she said. “I love theater and I’ve had the privilege to work with our Intro to Acting and Media class. There’s a lot of talent here in NY Mills, I was the speech coach, so I’ve been around it a lot. I’ve just never been able to be the fall play director or one-act play director due to personal reasons. I knew it would go away because they tried finding other people. I saw an opportunity and there’s definitely interest, we’ve got a lot of talent here in NY Mills, so this was my way of trying to help. I think it’s been going very well.”

This year 11 students took advantage of the class and are experiencing everything from script choice to set design. Caughey said that the class has been very hands-on this year and she enjoys being able to provide the variety of experience to each student as they work their way through the course.

“It’s mostly student led,” she explained. “The students have a hand in picking the play, design choices, they build the set, they created vision boards, put together costumes  for their characters, sound decisions, lighting choices, it’s the whole process, all with the script in mind.

“I like hands-on education,” she continued. “They all got to experience how to build a flat, how to measure, how to use power tools, what it looks like if it’s not perfect, painting, how much time it takes, how to acquire all the props, where do you go, how can you find things. It’s been really neat to have that hands-on experience in my class. They were even making props for the younger class.”

The course started with Caughey asking her students for the type of play and feeling that the students wanted to take on. Caughey then provided the students with 10 different plays in those categories to choose from and after much discussion and narrowing it down to three plays, “Alibis” was chosen. Caughey likened the play to Clue, but with its own nuances, humor, and a twist at the end.

“Lots of hidden nuanced humor within the characters themselves, so it’s making fund of these tropes and also bringing in that little bit more of a theatrical play, it has an essence of breaking down that barrier of a polished piece,” she said.

Caughey said that the biggest setback has been trying to schedule practices where everyone in the class can be there. With family vacations, sicknesses and other activities conflicting with the cast and crew’s schedules, it has been especially difficult in the past month to have everyone together in one practice. Apart from that, the students are finding their groove and enjoying the piece they chose.

“There’s a lot of natural talent and they do a pretty good job with direction,” said Caughey. “It’s fun to see kids have that outlet or have that opportunity to act. Seeing their growth, this class is a variety of experience. Some I had last year in my Intro to Acting and Media course, some haven’t been in it for four years since they’re seniors, and some have never been in it.

“It’s been really fun to see each of them grow and especially when you see that little click when they grasp a character,” she continued. “Even just making their character choices, seeing the ideas they come up with. So having that think-tank has been extremely neat and the personalities that match that.”

Caughey said that she hopes the community can see the high-involvement that the students have had throughout the play, including the costumes, sound, set design, set building, backstage crew, lead actors and actresses as well as their directorial pieces with selecting the play, thinking about what the community and student body would want to see and so much more.

“I hope people enjoy it,” she said. “They’re invested and excited about it.”