‘The Only Thing between Me and Total Awesomeness’ is life

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Triply awesome PHS actors, from left, seniors Bridgett Murphy, Alex Tasler and Zoe Meyer play flawed but lovable characters in "The Only Thing between Me and Total Awesomeness," which opens Friday, Nov. 8 at the Perry Performing Arts Center.

The Perry High School Drama Department will stage two performances of its fall production, “The Only Thing between Me and Total Awesomeness,” Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Perry Performing Arts Center.

The 2017 play by Alan Haehnel presents a series of 16 brief vignettes, each featuring a character on this side of perfection who is dealing with a decision or dilemma from ordinary life, such as procrastinating, managing anger, finding — or losing — a boyfriend or girlfriend, needing a job, trying to understand math.

“Each actor has their own funny little scene that is keeping them from being awesome,” said PHS Drama Coach Randy Peterson. “They’re basically just presenting their problem to the audience in a relatable way. Hopefully, our audience can kind of relate to some of the things these people here say.”

The 16 awesomeness seekers join with nine other actors for a total ensemble of 25 players. Performance time runs about 90 minutes.

“This show really gives our many talented actors a chance to shine,” Peterson said. “Instead of a play that has just two or three main characters, this allows a lot of people to have their time in the spotlight, which I appreciate a lot.”

Among the actors is PHS senior Bridgett Murphy, who plays the character of Jane. Jane’s issue is laziness or lethargy. She is “not the most go-getting personality in the play,” Murphy said. Jane cannot even find the strength of will to clean her room. Unfortunately — but realistically — Jane has friends and acquaintances who mock and ridicule her into action, like tough love without the love.

Senior Alex Tasler plays Abby, who’s “not the brightest person,” but “she’s just okay with it. She’s very upbeat and peppy even though my whole thing is I don’t understand math, and so I’m failing my math class even though I’m really, really passionate about it, and I go in for help all the time, I’m still failing, and that’s a problem. So it’s pretty much just me being very, very optimistic but still not good at math.”

Senior Zoe Meyer plays Sophie, and “the thing that stands between her and total awesomeness is her crappy boyfriend,” who “just sits and does nothing but play video games with his middle school cousin. We don’t even date. So I’m just kind of over it, and he’s so about it.” Everyone’s, like, ‘Oh, you’re such a cute couple,’ and everyone’s, like obsessed with it, and she’s over it.”

One character, Ruby, appears and reappears throughout the vignettes like a thread or ficelle. The only thing between Ruby and total awesomeness is her pride in supposing she is already totally awesome, but a little surprise toward the end of the play reveals Ruby’s flaw or frailty to herself.

“No matter the problem,” Haehnel said in the synopsis to the play, “everyone ends up with boundless hope that, when they have overcome the obstacle, awesomeness will prevail.”

Tickets for “The Only Thing between Me and Total Awesomeness” are $5 and can be bought at the PHS office or at the door on the night of the show.

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