Roxbury Village School opens “North Woods Nonsense” to Critical Acclaim
The Roxbury Village School presented the second showing of the Andrew Ross play “North Woods Nonsense” to a full house on a recent Friday night. After a successful opening night on Thursday, the students performed to an audience of about 50 people. The clever and intelligent play touches on the themes of politics, preservation of nature versus development and urban versus backwoods life, all wrapped up within and sometimes hidden by a real comedy.
The play is driven by two scenarios: a dim-witted politician who wants to destroy the great American natural areas to replace them with housing developments, malls and manmade lakes, and two sisters who are trying to make a remote Maine lodge work. The play is filled with lightly sarcastic political references and funny, backwoods humor.
Senator Thelma Oakley, played straight-faced by Tori Dickinson, is known as “The Worst Congresswoman in the History of the World… or the second worst… the worst voted against his own bill.” How did such an inept person become a Senator? She was appointed by a governor on his way to prison for illegal acts in office. Senator Oakley lacks intelligence and is unashamed in her promotion of development. Her current idea is to fill in the Grand Canyon with water so it can be used by scuba divers and other aquatic enthusiasts. She also wants to bulldoze the Great Smokey Mountains, put condominiums on Mount Rushmore (“so people can have their own private view”) and cap Old Faithful so it can be made into a “real fountain with goldfish.” Her aides, impeccably played by Garrett Bean in an authentic-looking Washington D.C. power-suit and Gabi Calderon as the junior aide who has to do the dirty work, keep the Senator’s bird-brained ideas from seeing the light of day. (The aides to the nature-hating politician are appropriately named Mr. Pine and Miss Birch. )This is until the biology-majorturned reporter, Barry Bush (played smartly by Wesley Dewey), gets sent by his boss, Holly Hauk (played by Aliza Chamberlin-Habel) to interview Senator Oakley. Bush has to track down the Senator in northern Maine, where she has been taken by Miss Birch to find and exterminate Big Foot.
This brings them all to Lost Loon Lodge on Moose Bottom (as opposed to Moose Head) Lake in Maine, where sisters Mary and Carrie Granola (Anna Van Ness and Sydney Dewey) are struggling to maintain a rundown lodge that was given to them by their Uncle Roscoe, who won it in a poker game. The lodge’s jackof all trades Pete (Adam Gerdes), who moonlights as a writer for the tabloid The National Divulger, writes a ficticious article about Big Foot being sighted close to the lodge. This brings business to the place in the form of Big Foot seekers and Senator Oakley. When the lodge guests get anxious because they haven’t seen Big Foot, Pete puts on a gorilla head with the help of the two sisters and runs into the woods with Carrie. They are soon pursued back to the lodge and eventually Pete ends up getting caught by the fishing net of the hapless and clueless fishing couple, Mr. & Mrs. Pike (Nolan Bean and Andrea Burnell). The plot takes an ominous turn when “Men in Black” secret agents played intensely by MacKensie Fordham and Jacob Hall-Larson appear and whisk Big Foot/Pete away to Roswell, New Mexico, implying that he is really an alien.
The story comes to a close when Pete reappears, saying that the government agents were really writer-friends of his who were tracking the “Strangest Couple in the World” (The Pikes). Big Foot’s disappearance apparently goes unnoticed, as the everserious Holly Hauk reports that hundreds of people arrived in Roswell following the rumor that Big Foot had been taken there. In the meantime, Senator Oakley resigns. Grace Granite, (played perfectly by Tapanga Murry), the airheaded TV reporter and bane of Holly’s existence, who spent the entire play getting lost, is appointed in her place. Savvy reporter and biology expert Barry Bush takes Grace’s place and ends up interviewing the former Senator, who is now working in comedy with her former assistant Miss Birch.
The play was well performed by all the young actors and provided plenty of dry humor and tongue in cheek laughs. Other actors included: Emma Rea and Hunter Ryan as reporters chasing the story of Big Foot and the Senator, Gabe Wendell, Cody Potwin, Nathan Dickinson and Hannah Rea as quirky lodge guests. Kindergarten students Miles Emmons, Amirah Lewis, Cameron Raspe, Chris Rouille-Vollbrecht and Leah Vinton, as well as first graders Cyrus Bowen, Ijaeda Dubé, Izzy Jackson, Orrin Price and Zoe Ryan, and second graders Jonathan Tenney, Colin Van Ness and Brendan Vinton played reporters, guests and “men in black” agents. The sturdy and well-designed set was created by Matt Flinn and the beautiful painted window was crafted by Anna Van Ness. The production’s director was teacher Jennifer Gray and and the Assistant Director was Kristina Richburg.