'Kokonut High' Takes Audience Back To The Beach

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The Payson High School Drama Department wraps up the current season this week with Tim Kelly's "Kokonut High," a wild and crazy beach comedy with something for everyone.

Sophomore Rebecca Ross is Cordelia Hawkins, matriarch of a southern family that has owned a small Caribbean island for generations. But the harder she and her children Earl played by sophomore Rick Welker and Betty played by sophomore Heather Morris work to make it into a resort island, the more obvious it becomes that it simply isn't going to be successful.

Also on the island is Cordelia's best friend, Ma Kawawkee (senior Erica Thompson), and her children, Roy Boy (sophomore Jason Knoell) and Suky (sophomore Ashley Eckstein). Between them, they come up with a solution for the island's woes turn it into a charter high school and attract students by playing up all the fun aspects of going to school on a Caribbean island.

As you might expect, the ads in national magazines featuring scuba diving, beachcombing, snorkeling, and water skiing attract a student body eager to have a good time. Unfortunately the only full-time faculty member is a history teacher and wannabe pirate named Swampy (senior Daniel Kitchen).

Not only does Swampy smell like a pirate might who hasn't bathed in years, but Captain Kidd (junior Andrew Steedman) comes to him as an apparition and tells him to get everybody off the island. To further complicate the plot, a gangster wants to buy the island and turn it into a safe haven for crooks, and a "cheesy little blonde named Frosty" tries to lay claim to it with a map she bought at Disney World.

"It's a crazy, modern-day beach comedy with lots of sand, surf, laughs and chase scenes," PHS drama assistant Kathy Siler said.

Tons of sand are actually being trucked in for the production by Payson Concrete & Materials, enough to transform the Studio Theater into a reasonable replica of a Caribbean paradise. The theater, located in a separate building between the auditorium and the dome on the PHS campus, is such an intimate venue, you might even get some sand kicked on you.

"It's a completely different experience from the auditorium," Siler said.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee Friday. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students in grades 1-12, and $1 for Renaissance cardholders.

Following the production, the last event on the drama calendar for the 2001-02 school year is the annual awards ceremony May 30.

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