Will Ravenstein

Wellington Daily News

The Wellington High School Crusaders of the Stage stepped into a serious production over the weekend with their show “Unexpected Tenderness.”

Wellington High School Drama teacher Dorathea Kelly said she and several of her students saw the play during an International Thespians conference and knew right away they wanted to do it when the right cast was assembled. Kelly approached principal, Adam Hatfield, and Superintendent Mark Whitener, about the play. She informed them due to the seriousness of the content she would limit the cast to juniors and seniors, as they would be more mature to handle the material.

“I told them (Hatfield and Whitner) that we would like to make it a social issue thing,” Kelly said. “We added the domestic hotlines, and, I told them this is real life. We have kids that are looking at going to college and maybe becoming professional actors, and they need this experience.”

The story follows a Jewish family in the late 1950’s as deal with the father/husband’s jealous tendencies and abusive behavior.

Though the play started out with some mild comedic flair, this was not a comedy. The serious undertones of the young Roddy, Jacob Michaelis, dealing with his speech on fear helps the character deal with the trauma he and his family are going through.

Monologues throughout the story by both young Roddy and Roddy (elder), Matthew Sinnett, give the show the underlying emotional depth. How both are dealing with the situations at hand and how they reflect on what has happened.

Sinnett also plays ‘Archie’, the father, who’s jealous suspicious nature keeps him away from work. He uses that time to peer through the window to see what is happening in his house.

This spying, causes an uneasy, walking on egg shells feeling within the household. Add to that, the three generations living under one roof, as ‘Archie’s’ parents, ‘Jacob and Haddie’ are also living with them.

Tender moments occur during different scenes between ‘young Roddy’ and his grandparents, John Mayo and Lizzy Santana, as they explain why things are the way they are.

‘Haddie’ explains in one scene that the men in the family are crazy people and that there is a family trait of abuse.

“She says it’s the family disease,” Kelly said. “That’s very true as well. Domestic violence is usually learned. We find more and more often that sons learn that type of behavior from their fathers, girls see that growing up and gravitate towards that type of man.”

The seriousness of the content shown comes to a climax in the end, when ‘Archie’s’ friend ‘Willie’, David Matlock, comes to the house uninvited instead of going to work. ‘Willie’ attempts to have his way with ‘Mollie’, who he claims has been teasing him sexually for some time.

‘Archie’ walks in on this, to which ‘Wille’ quickly blames ‘Molly’ knowing the jealous nature of ‘Archie.’

‘Molly’ is punished for her transgressions against ‘Archie’ and decides she has had enough.

After the show Friday, there were some mixed emotions. Happiness to see the students perform, and anger at them as well.

The Pacchelli’s were in the audience and saw their daughter being abused. This caused some personal feelings to develop.

“I just cried and cried, Dana Pacchelli said.

“I think it’s nice that the school allows them to do something like this,” Brian Pacchelli said. “I told her that I’d kill anyone that did that to her in real life.”

Also in attendance was Matthew Sinnett’s mom Julie.

“I don’t know if I like him in the play, but I’m proud of him,” Julie said. It’s good because it’s showing how round of an actor he is becoming. It was intense. you felt it. You can’t walk away saying that you didn’t feel something.”

That was what Kelly and cast said they wanted from the audience, when interviewed several weeks ago. They wanted the audience to be able to leave learning that there is hope, an escape and people that really care about the victims of domestic violence.

As the crew tears down the set next week they will begin preparing for the final show of the 2016-17 school year with a performance of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in March.