Pamplin Media Group – NHS will stage a pair of plays from this week

The troupe will perform Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Little Women’ for eight days in April

Theater buffs will have the chance to indulge their penchant for comedy and drama via a pair of plays staged over the next few weeks at Newberg High School.

The school’s legendary troupe will perform Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Drea Ferguson Auditorium. Show times are at 7 p.m. on all three days, with an additional matinee scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Two weeks later, the school will include the classic musical “Little Women” at 7 p.m. from April 28-30, with a 1 p.m. matinee scheduled for April 30.

Rehearsals for the Shakespearean classic began in December, while the cast of “Little Women” began preparation in February. Sixty students, actors and production team stage “Twelfth Night”. The cast and crew of “Little Women” total about 35 people.

“Rehearsals went well (for ‘Twelfth Night’),” said NHS drama teacher Mike McConaughey, in his seventh year as head of the school’s drama department. “Having class rehearsals a few times a week to four days a week after school, after ‘Clue’ is over, is always a huge change. We’re used to having our rehearsals after school, so it’s normal, but a change from the first part of rehearsals was welcome.”

He added that the troupe only rehearses for “Little Women” on school days, “so a 50-minute class goes by really quickly.”

“The majority of my students are experienced actors or technicians, so they quickly learn (choreography) and music,” he said.

Unveiling two productions a few weeks apart is not typical in the NHS.

“It’s the first time,” McConaughey said. “We’re taking the typical two-weekend run for our Shakespeare show and turning it into one weekend with four performances. The second weekend is moved up a week, and we’re running the second show with four performances.

“While these are technically class projects, the students involved are mostly the students participating in the after-school program anyway, and these shows also benefit from the full resources of the department.”

While “Twelfth Night” is directed by students Emily Busch, Hailey McCollum, and Abigail Steffan, with guidance from McConaughey and another teacher, McConaughey helms “Little Women,” with Noah Watson as assistant director.

“Students chose almost everything about ‘Twelfth Night,'” McConaughey said. “They’ve been working on this show since the beginning of the school year. To have 50 students all working towards a singular goal is pretty remarkable; there’s a lot of collaboration and cooperation to have a quality production. Now we have that collaboration between 50 high school students, and it becomes even more special to see their creation come to life.”

As in years past, both productions will see roles played by two actors, more in the case of “Little Women” than in Shakespeare’s play.

“Part of my hope as a learning environment is to foster the idea that having as many people in as many roles as jobs is a good idea,” McConaughey said. “We have roles that have an understudy and others that are voiced.”

McConaughey said The Bard’s “Twelfth Night” is essentially a humorous love story.

“Viola, separated from her twin Sebastian, dresses as a young man (Cesario) and works for Duke Orsino, with whom she falls in love,” he said. “Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia and sends Viola to woo her for him, but Olivia falls in love with Viola (Cesario) instead. Sebastian arrives, causing a flood of mistaken identity, and marries Olivia. Viola then reveals that she is a daughter and marries Orsino.”

“Little Women,” McConaughey said, is more serious and direct.

“With their father fighting in the American Civil War, sisters Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth are home with their mother,” he said. “The story centers on Jo, who hopes to one day become a famous writer, and tells how the sisters grow up, find love and find their place in the world.”

“I chose ‘Little Women’ for the musical because of the small cast and the wonderful story it tells,” he added. “When I ran the show a few years ago, it was fun to see families and multiple generations coming to see the show because the story was a family favorite.”

Tickets for “Twelfth Night” are $8 for seniors and adults, $6 for students. Senior and adult participants of “Little Women” will pay $10, while student tickets are $8. Tickets are available by visiting, clicking on the “tickets” button at the top of the page.

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