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Everyone is welcome at the Hope and Heartache Diner

Felix, played by Emmy Brugler, talks to the audience as she remembers the stories her parents told her about how they met in her grandparents’ dinner during a New Richmond High School drama department rehearsal of “The Hope and Heartacher Dinner” on Tuesday, March 28. (Photo by Jordan Willi)1 / 2
A group of New Richmond High School drama students run through a scene in “The Hope and Heartache Dinner” during a recent rehearsal in the high school auditorium. (Photo by Jordan Willi)2 / 2

New Richmond

Have you ever stepped into a 50s diner and wondered what stories the restaurant could tell you if it could speak? The New Richmond High School's spring play, "The Hope and Heartache Diner," angles to play out the scenes from a few of the stories of love, family and life that an old 50s diner has to share.

"Basically, the play centers on the main character, Felix, who works at a diner that is her family's business and the scenes switch back and forth between how she thinks the diner was when her grandparents had it and then how her parents met," said junior Sadira Burgess, who plays a waitress named Mission in the play. "It is interesting because it shows the daily life of the people at the diner and the things that go on in it."

Performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. April 9.

Play director Aimee Dixon chose this year's spring play because it was relevant to the students and the audience as well.

"It deals with teenage issues and family issues. I wanted to keep something that was more simplistic and didn't have a lot of set changes because we kind of got a late start this year," Dixon said. "The costuming with this isn't super extensive either."

Another benefit of picking this play, according to Dixon, is that there were a lot of parts to be filled and there were a lot of students who came out for the play as well.

"The kids are so dedicated and so easy to work with. They show up to help build the sets and are here on time," Dixon said. "The parent volunteers have also been great. They have come in and helped with building the sets and have brought in snacks as well. I really want to thank them for all they have done."

The students in this year's play have had a varying degree of experience when it comes to performing in plays, from students like Burgess who have been in plays since they were in sixth grade, to newcomer Emma Brugler.

"I originally wasn't going to audition, since I'm typically in sports when the play comes around, but I ended up at audition night and just decided to give it a try," said Brugler, a junior who plays the lead, Felix the waitress. "I ended up with the main part, so I couldn't really drop out then. I've never been in a play before, so it was a surprise to end up as the lead. But a nice surprise."

Other actors are used to being relatively quiet in real life find themselves playing a character who is loud and gets to wield a frying pan like a sword.

"I really love playing this part since I'm usually the quiet one, but this part really lets me be loud and go around screaming while waving a frying pan around," said junior Hannah Minke, who plays waitress Rat in the play. "The cast has really become friends, which is cool since I probably wouldn't be friends with some of these people if it weren't for the play."

With the play having a large number of roles, there are students who have had to take on more than one part in order to make sure all the parts are covered, including sophomore David Postma.

"There are quite a few different characters in this play, so I'm playing a few of them that show up for one scene and then leave," said Postma, who plays three parts, including Falcon, Cooper and Donny. "It would have been too hard to have each character played by one actor. The hardest part of the play for me is my scene where I play Cooper, when there are two separate groups of teens discussing their futures in the diner, but the scene and dialogue switches from group to group. That makes it difficult to figure out exactly when you have to start talking and when it switches to the other group."

The entire play is set in the diner that has been in Felix's family for generations, which means there are no set changes, but it also means that the only way the audience can be sure the play has shifted from the present to the past is by the lighting provided by the stage crew.

"The lights are really important in this play, since the lights change from flashback to the present, we had to make it really distinct so the audience can tell the difference," said junior stage manager Emily Noye. "I have been working on the lights more heavily for this one. Since I'm stage manager for this play, I've been designing the lighting."

With the play opening Friday night, the students couldn't be more excited about performing for their friends and family.

"The play is something that I think people will love to see. It is so much fun to do and I hope people enjoy it," said freshman Zoe Ledo, who plays baker Wiki.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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