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Editorial: HMS play deserves a big audience

Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to get a brief preview of Hastings Middle School’s next play.

While that’s not terribly surprising, what was a surprise was the type of production the theater crew over at HMS is putting together. Rather than falling back on cute and colorful costumes, silly one-liners and high-energy song and dance, this production is decidedly more serious.

“And A Child Shall Lead” has a small cast. It’s set in a World War II concentration camp, where a misstep could cost the people there their lives. It puts children face to face with the horrors of war. On top of all that, it’s a story that’s based on real life events and features the actual words of people who endured in that particular camp.

It’s a big shift for the HMS stage, which hasn’t put on a drama in about 30 years, according to the play’s director, Zach Filkins. But it’s also an opportunity to discuss important topics and break out of the stereotype that middle school students aren’t ready to handle serious acting. That’s one of Filkins’ goals.

“I’m excited to do this to show that middle schoolers can handle something like this,” Filkins said.

While this play is something that’s more expected on a high school stage, it’s not beyond the HMS students’ capabilities. After seeing just a tidbit of the play in rehearsal, we can attest to that.

It’s not easy, though. At over an hour long, this play is longer than what these young actors are used to. The 10 students involved in this production rehearse every night after school. Rehearsal hours were extended for this one, too. The topic itself is much more thought provoking and emotional than previous plays they’ve done and demands a strong focus.

“It’s stressful,” Filkins said. “But it’s a good kind of stress.”

The play will be performed this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Hastings Middle School auditorium. It’s free, and there’s only one showing.

Afterwards, the audience will get to talk with the cast directly, hear what the actors themselves think and ask questions about the play.

We’d like to recognize the students and staff that are putting so much effort into creating a great show. And we hope that our readers take the time on Tuesday to see just how much these young actors are capable of.