BRAWLEY – Brawley Union High School’s Drama Club kicked off opening night of their new play, “A Plot of Murder,” to a packed house and excited audience. With the grand opening Thursday evening, the play will continue through the weekend, with performances Friday and Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
This is the first high school play performed in Palmer Auditorium since its grand re-opening April 28.
Students performed an entertaining and interactive show that had audience members simultaneously laughing and scratching their heads in suspense. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this endearing, light-hearted show.
Different than a large-scale production, the play has audience members join the cast on stage, where they are immersed as members of a Home Owners Association meeting. As the title insinuates, something goes awfully wrong at the meeting.
Set as a stage dinner theatre, the audience was treated to pizza, soda, and dessert (and seconds) while watching the show. The play was full of twists and surprises, one being that several cast members blend in as regular members of the audience until halfway through the play.
Cast members frequently improvise, as they are required to intermingle with the audience, while staying in character, even during the short intermission.
“From the start, we get the audience into the mood,” said Jason Contreras, Brawley Union High School drama teacher and director of the play. He welcomed the audience by announcing, “I wish we were here for a play, but we are grateful to Palmer for allowing us to rent this space for our Home Owners Association meeting.”
“There is still room left (for those interested in watching the show),” Contreras said. “It’s a good value for your ticket – you get dinner, dessert, and a show.”
“This is better than a movie,” he added.
Contreras praised his cast and crew, saying he was “very proud” of their hard work.
Students rehearsed for the play for six weeks leading up to opening night, however, two student actors crammed in rehearsing last minute. Jaymi Sanchez and Joaquin Salceda were last minute additions, after two cast members unexpectedly dropped out.
Salceda played a main part, despite only having one week to learn his lines. Sanchez, a junior at Brawley High, had only two days to rehearse before show time.
“I was very nervous,” Sanchez admitted, “but they needed me so I was willing.”
“Tonight was our best performance yet,” she said.
Students and community members alike have been eager to attend plays in the recently renovated Palmer Auditorium. Danielle Torrez, a senior at Brawley High said, “I got here right at 6:30 p.m. when the doors opened. I was so excited to come watch the play!”
Now that Palmer has reopened, Contreras is looking forward to performing bigger productions. He plans on directing a high school version of “Guys and Dolls” in the fall, and is open to talent Valley-wide. “The more students and talent we have, the bigger the shows can be,” he said. “I am open to having talented students from across the Valley join us.”
Contreras maintains a big presence within the theatre community. As Brawley’s drama teacher, he is beloved for his knowledge and mentorship.
Roman Sanchez, assistant director, praised Contreras. “Everything I’ve learned about theatre, I’ve learned from him. From how to talk to actors, the stage crew, set the stage, etc.…. he’s been a big mentor,” said Roman Sanchez.
For more information on how to be a part of a future production, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for “A Plot of Murder” are $10 and are available at the door.
Weekend performances are Friday, May 22, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 23, at 7 p.m.