At just the right moment, Cedaredge High School theater students are providing some real comic relief from an all-too-serious presidential election season.
In their funny and fast-paced spring production, "The Election," the CHS thespians have created a send-up of twisted motives, public posturing, backroom politics and outright foolishness in a battle of two egos conniving to win a presidential election.
The story is set as high school senior Mark Davenport (played by Kerry Ribbens) looks back on a run for senior class president that began with much promise. Having gotten his stump speech down pat and with his campaign manager predicting a "coast to victory," Davenport looks to the future with confidence.
But those hopes are dashed when an opponent unexpectedly appears: the appealing, quick-witted and politically savvy Christy Martin (played by Kenna Signs). She enters the race with a slick campaign backed by some big money from somewhere -- nobody seems to know from where exactly.
Davenport finds himself continually outpaced in this race by Martin as she tongue ties him during debates, appeals to the crowd mentality during talk show appearances, and trashes his character in the media while playing herself as the victim.
Her hardball campaign tactics finally produce a phony scandal for Davenport's campaign that threatens to run it completely off the rails. As the opening scene of the play comes to a close, Davenport is forced to make a fateful decision: Does he continue his campaign based on fairness, issues, and truth, or does he succumb to the temptation of hiring a sleazy campaign consultant to combat the street-wise Martin?
The two leads - Ribbens and Signs - are ideally cast and matched to their parts. Davenport's pensive rationalizations on how his campaign could have spun so completely out of control are a perfect plot set piece to Martin's cool and calculated verbal maneuvering. The two actors create a believable character interaction that highlights the comedic action. The lead players' energy and spot-on character portrayal makes a funny script by Don Zolitis all the funnier.
The dramatic tension produced by the candidates' personal and public encounters are backed up by a corps of low information voters and various media types who feast on manipulating the both the candidates' statements and the electorate in order to sway public opinion and to boost network ratings.
The action and dialogue of the second and final act careen onward through a comedy of errors that only the theme of an American style election can produce. There are unexpected revelations along the way to a totally surprise conclusion.
The spring production will be presented to the public on Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26, at 7 p.m. at the school. Tickets are adults $6; seniors $5; and students $4.
In addition to Ribbens and Signs, other cast members in the production are: Andrew Reynolds, Kaden Schulz, Lynzie Stratman, Devon Glidden, Rikke Klausen, Angela Saenz, Xander Purcell, Olivia McCrackan, Michael Baugh, Riana Fuller, DaizyAnn McCarty, Callie Wasser, Elizabeth Wood, Julie Mills, Jaelyn Rains, Michelle Varanai, Faith Esquibel, Jordan Hickox, Jessica Bowler, Mikaylah Saenz, Mckenzie Moore, Elle Hockersmith, and Marian Blanks.