Havre Daily News
Some people may read their horoscope in a newspaper or magazine out of curiosity or for fun, while others see the alignment of the planets as an explanation for behavior. Those seeking meaning in the distant stars above could just ask Ptolemy.
Ptolemy is an astrologer in the comedy "You Were Born on a Rotten Day," presented by the Montana Actors' Theatre Youth Group. Havre High School student Joe Palmer stars as the wild astrologer and also as wacky physics instructor Claude P. Jones.
Director Mike Palmer, Joe's father, said the production will entertain and educate the audience.
"Basically it's about a physics instructor trying to get funds for a physics lab. He has unusual ways of going about it," Mike Palmer said. "It's hopefully not only entertaining, but educational."
"(Jones) pretends to be somebody else and he makes wild predictions as somebody else," said Havre High School student Katie Robinson, 16, of Havre, who plays three characters: Mrs. Ames, a concerned citizen; Brigid, a Galileo High School student; and Connie Constellation, a newspaper astrologer.
This is the 12th MAT production Mike Palmer has been involved with, but this is the first time he has directed.
"If you hang around long enough, they put you to work," he said.
Practice for the play began during the last week of May. MAT is a nonprofit organization that expects the best out of a production's crew, Palmer said. MAT usually presents about four productions throughout the year. What makes this summer production unique, he said, is the opportunity for high school students to achieve outside of the classroom.
"A lot of them have experience with plays already. For some of them this is their first experience. This is another opportunity for them to be involved," Palmer said. "We're a professional organization. We expect the kids to live up to our standards. We do expect them to be professional when they're in this production."
This is the first MAT performance for Robinson, who will be a junior at Havre High School this fall. Robinson has taken Drama I and has been involved with Thespians at the high school. With her interests in acting and astrology, the play is "appealing" to her.
"(Acting) is a passion of mine. It's just a lot of fun. You get to go on stage in front of a bunch of people and be somebody completely different than what you are," she said.
"It's going to be wicked. I think we're going to do pretty good," she added.
Seventeen-year-old Andrew Dusek, who plays Councilman Banks, likes the play because the audience will be able to relate to the situations that arise.
"It's your basic comedy. It's really relatable, fun, easy to follow, easy to do and fun to put together," he said. "We've all gotten along really well."
Dusek will be a senior at Havre High School this fall. Mike Palmer refers to Dusek as "a veteran" on stage. For three years, Dusek has been involved with MAT. In high school he has taken Drama I and II and is in Thespians, and speech and debate. This fall he plans to be in an upcoming MAT production and will take Drama III.
The final dress rehearsal for "You Were Born On A Rotten Day" was Tuesday night. Nerves are usually high as last-minute adjustments are made, but Dusek was excited about opening night.
"I think it will go pretty well. It's like with any play: There's that moment of indecision where everything gets tense at the end. But it always goes together. That's one of the great things about theater is when everything comes together in the end and seeing the great results happen," Dusek said.
"I think Mike is doing a great job ... it's been great having him as a director," he added.
During Tuesday's dress rehearsal, Palmer sat in the audience and let the students go through the play on their own. He is confident in their performances.
"It's sink or swim, but they're going to swim," he said. "Of course I have all of the faith in the world. They'll be ready."
Other students joining the stage with Robinson, Dusek and Joe Palmer are Sierra Morse, Brittney Fugelseth, Jade Lowder, Zach Kamala, Emily Kostelecky, Ally Woodwick, Jamaica Kaercher, Mitch Hodges, Lucas Minnick, Jacob Palmer, Heather Kohlman, Dan Marino and Amelia Hintz.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.