Arcanum HS Drama Dept. draws big laughs in fall comedy


By Dawn Hatfield

ARCANUM — The stage at Arcanum-Butler High School came to life on Nov. 20 and 21 when the drama department performed their fall play, “The Ransom of Miss Elverna Dower,” which begs the question, “If somebody kidnapped your least favorite teacher, would you want her back?”

In Laurie Bryant’s award-winning comedy, “The Ransom of Miss Elverna Dower,” Casey and Tim nab their demanding English teacher to avoid having to take a test but quickly realize no one truly misses her! provides a synopsis of the hilarious play that originally premiered at LaGrange Middle School (N.Y.) in 2008, “It’s bad enough that she corrects the grammar in their ransom note and makes them rewrite it, but when the captive teacher assigns them a research paper on famous kidnappings in history, the young kidnappers find themselves doing more school work than ever! Meanwhile, nobody takes the new principal (a former student of Miss Dower) seriously, a high-strung ex-Marine [and a] corporate exec turned housewife run a PTA bake sale fundraiser with military precision, a … custodian works frantically to keep the crumbling building ship-shape, and the football mascot believes himself a real Viking warrior with his sassy cousin from Brooklyn as his Valkyrie-in-training.”

Under the direction of Becky and Joel Hootman, the Arcanum-Butler students’ performances shined. Karis Wright (Casey) and Dominic Rhodehamel (Tim) drew the audience in quickly while describing the academic torture that is Miss Elverna Dower. Claire Lemons (Principal Donnelly) stole the show with her spot-on portrayal of an overwhelmed new principal whose life is more complicated, albeit far more enjoyable, with the ever-present Miss Elverna Dower “out” for the day. Carley Rieman (Ms. Hamilton) gave a wonderful supporting performance as the logical sidekick to the often frazzled principal. Ashton Paul (Monty the Custodian) and Zeke Wright (Erik the Viking) added a mountain of laughs to an already hilarious school day. The entire cast gave wonderful performances on a beautifully-designed set, and the excellent work of the entire drama department was immediately evident as laughter rang out across the cafetorium. Thanks to the clever script (and Miss Elverna Dower), audience members may have even learned a new word or two!

Be sure to mark your calendars for the spring show, “Shrek The Musical JR.,” where everyone’s favorite ogre will take the stage Apr. 22 to 24.

“The Ransom of Miss Elverna Dower” script may be previewed at

Dawn Hatfield covers education stories for The Daily Advocate. Have a school-related event to share? Reach out by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.

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