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Home-school students solve case of 'Mystery at Shady Acres' jewelry theft in play

Dr. Rittigers (Jenna Polley) and her assistant, Kitty (Melodie Englund), discuss their thoughts about the jewelry theft in a performance of "Mystery at Shady Acres."

Who stole Mrs. Fairfax's necklace?

That's the question characters in the play "Mystery at Shady Acres" try to answer throughout the play.

The Park Rapids Area Home School Association presented the play, through iPlay Productions, last weekend at Long Lake Theater in Hubbard. Audra Hill directed the 37 students in the production.

Grace Steward, playing Mrs. Fairfax, said she really liked being in the play.

"I love the character," she said. "It's fun to be a different person."

"Mystery at Shady Acres," by Michelle R. Davis, takes place at Shady Acres, a hotel located in rural England in the late 1920s.

Hotel staff prepares for the arrival of the Fairfaxes, who are wealthy and famous. Events don't go as planned, with many twists and turns in the story. When everything is finally under control, Mrs. Fairfax's diamond necklace is stolen.

The police and a detective question everyone at the hotel, only to find that everyone has a motive. The audience is asked questions to help solve the mystery.

Students auditioned in December and started rehearsing in January.

Melodie Englund played Kitty, Dr. Rittiger's assistant.

"I'm basically a mad scientist," she said.

Englund said she liked working with the director because she was very flexible.

"I got to improvise and do something different if I felt like it," she said.

Jenna Polley, who played Dr. Rittigers, said she really enjoys acting.

"I'd definitely try it again," she said.

Tim Conger, playing Basel, and Jake Gazelka, playing Mr. Clifford, said they don't have stage fright. They enjoy improvising and doing "crazy things" on stage.

"You can be anything you want to be and that can be fun," Conger said.

They've acted before and might try it again.

Audra Hill said directing the students has been a great experience.

"It really came together and they had a good time," she said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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