Dempsey students to perform two shows


By Glenn Battishill - [email protected]



Audrey Nye, center, plays the grandmother in Dempsey Middle School’s production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Several cast members are shown during a recent rehearsal.

Audrey Nye, center, plays the grandmother in Dempsey Middle School’s production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Several cast members are shown during a recent rehearsal.


Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

Shivani Tennety, left, and Sam Breglia, right, have an argument about the Velveteen Rabbit, played by Ebony Marshall, during rehearsals for the Dempsey Middle School production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.”


Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

Dempsey Middle School students will show off their acting and comedy skills tonight at Willis Education Center when their productions of “Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit” and “The Velveteen Rabbit” opens.

The pair of shows will be performed tonight and Friday at 7 p.m. in the Willis auditorium. Tickets are on sale at bit.ly/DempseyDrama.

Director Jennifer Ruhlen said she selected the pair of shows as a learning experience for the cast.

“These two shows really gave us a chance to work on some skills with our casts,” she said. “’The Velveteen Rabbit’ show really forces the cast to show us more emotion and compassion. They had to work on character development and decide who their character was. The ‘Law & Order’ show really forces the kids to take characters that they already knew and develop them in a different way. Stories that they may have been familiar with don’t necessarily end up the same way.”

Ruhlen said “The Velveteen Rabbit” is a more emotional show and will be performed first with the comedy, “Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit,” as a way to lighten the mood afterwards.

“The audience is definitely going to experience some conflicting emotions with these shows,” Ruhlen said in an email Tuesday. “The story of the Velveteen Rabbit can be viewed as a sad story. As an adult it really makes you think back on the toys you played with as a child. To ease the raw emotions from the first show, we give them lots of humor in the ‘Law & Order’ show! Little one-liners here and there from fairy tale characters they already are super familiar with!”

The casts have been practicing since February. Ruhlen said she’s enjoying how much fun the students are having.

“Honestly, the part that I enjoy the most is seeing these kids have fun and enjoy each other,” Ruhlen said. “As each cast performs, the other cast cheers them on. They truly are a family and are each others greatest supporters! They have grown immensely as actors, and it’s just amazing getting to watch them from audition to performance!”

Izzy Burgeson, an eighth grader playing Gretel in “Law & Order,” said she’s enjoying the rehearsal process and is excited for the show.

“I’ve really liked working with my friends,” Burgeson said. “I just really enjoyed getting to know new people. This is what usually happens … I never think I’m prepared but all of a sudden, it comes together.”

Burgeson said she enjoyed learning a German accent for the role and has a special connection to the character since her mother played Gretel in a production of “Hansel and Gretel” at Ohio Wesleyan University in the 1980s.

Violet Weber, an eighth grader playing the Evil Queen, said she enjoyed honing her craft during rehearsals.

“I enjoyed working on my acting skills through this,” Weber said. “With musicals there’s lots of singing and dancing but this actually focuses on the aspect of acting, and it’s really fun to get to know what you can do. I’m pretty nervous, but I have the supportive atmosphere that I need to do (the part).”

Paige Keller, an eighth grader who plays the Fairy Godmother in the production, said she’s looking forward to what the future has in store for her.

“I’m excited … It’s my last show (at Dempsey),” Keller said. “I’m having a good time, and I feel prepared. I’m excited to go to the high school and do the plays there. I feel like all the shows are a fun place to be.”

Keller said there are many versions of the Fairy Godmother, but she wanted her version to be “classy, proper and also very magical.”

“I hope the audience has a great time watching the show,” Keller said. “I hope I inspire kids to be in the shows as well.”

Sam Breglia, a sixth grader playing Theodore in “The Velveteen Rabbit,” said he’s looking forward to performing on stage.

“Of course, I’m nervous but once you rehearse it so many times (the nerves) fade into the back of your mind,” he said.

For more information on the drama department at Dempsey, visit bit.ly/DempseyDrama.

Audrey Nye, center, plays the grandmother in Dempsey Middle School’s production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Several cast members are shown during a recent rehearsal.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/03/web1_DSC_1215.jpgAudrey Nye, center, plays the grandmother in Dempsey Middle School’s production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Several cast members are shown during a recent rehearsal. Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

Shivani Tennety, left, and Sam Breglia, right, have an argument about the Velveteen Rabbit, played by Ebony Marshall, during rehearsals for the Dempsey Middle School production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/03/web1_DSC_1234.jpgShivani Tennety, left, and Sam Breglia, right, have an argument about the Velveteen Rabbit, played by Ebony Marshall, during rehearsals for the Dempsey Middle School production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.