For those of you who happened to see ACT II"s "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in December, then you don't want to miss viewing the sequel "The Best School Year Ever" written by Barbara Robinson and adapted to children's theatre and directed by Vickie Reifsnider.

 The shows are 2 and 7 p.m. today at the Norris Performing Arts Center, 1450 Cradduck Road.

The production, sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council and Cable One, is outstanding.  A flashback from the 1950s, with poodle skirts, leather jackets and rolled up jeans, the cast demonstrates the innocent, fun side from that era.

Miss Kemp, played by Brittany Dawn, sets the mood with kindness and couragement, even when Junior (Michael Moore) pulls a mouse from an oatmeal box.  Emily Duty who plays "Mandy" has the opportunity to tell class that Alice Wendleken, played by Cali Stenson, is dramatic. 

Stenson does an awesome dramatic interpretation of the typical A+ student "know-it-all" and expresses her opinions quite well. Cody Howard makes his debut by playing Boomer Malone, the class clown.  Throughout the play, Boomer is a strong character, this actor is good and he improvs well, especially when "Baby Howard McCluskey", played by Dexter Elliott, broke out in tears and had to be removed from the scene.

The entire classroom handled the situation like professionals.  Sunny Pearce plays "Jessie" and reminds one of the mischievous Herdmans that even their cat is psycho.  Karli Warmuth is a boisterous actress, who would rather write about Marilyn Monroe than to do the original assignment. 

The Herdman children are conniving, especially when Leroy (Justin Gage) tries to throw Charlie Bradley (Brock Mann) into a trash masher, and Ollie (Steven Davidson) tries to claim a $500 reward for his brother Claude (Dalton Dial) from Mr. Blair the postmaster, played by Jerry Todd.  Ollie has the whole town and a lady from South Dakota (Taylor Zilem) standing in line at the Sunoco Station, when we discover that Claude is locked in the restroom. 

Sunoco Manager (Caroline Harris who does an excellent job playing multiple roles throughout the play) can't comprehend why Ollie didn't ask her for help as the lie unfolds.  To add the chaos, Mrs. Cleveland (Makenzi Lamb who also plays multiple roles) enters covered in soap suds because the Herdmans tried to wash their psycho cat in the washing machine of the new laundromat and

Mrs. Santos (Maddison Helms) is hard of hearing and mistakes the words "cat hair" for "bad air" and thinks the laundromat is going to explode.  Katie cowger who plays Officer Speck does an outstanding job trying to keep the story straight.

Gladys Herdman (Julia Smola) is known for biting everyone and even takes a bite out of Ralph (Nathan Wright) when he is dumb-founded over the new girl Amy Behrens, played by Rachel Madden who also makes her ACT II debut, and he can't even find the words to tell her his name.

Candy, played by Meagan Wright, tries to warn Amy that Ralph is no good, but as Leslie (Monica Hale) says, "She is head over heels in love". 

Chaos begins for Louella (Brandi Williams) when she leaves the candy store and discovers that her baby brother is missing.  She can't decide which is worse, him being stolen by a complete stranger or finding out that the Herdmans have him and are using him to make money by charging kids a quarter to see the "Amazing Tattooed Baby". 

Kristen Morris plays Miss Newman, an adorable kindergarten teacher who tries to control the little ones, Jackson Link, Hannah Duty, Lindsey Link, Rory Madden, and Kory Cowger.  She reacts well after finding a snake hanging in the supply closet, unlike the male species in that scene, Roger Hays who plays Principal Crabtree, Sterling Jacobs (the janitor) and Cody Morris the cowardly coach. 

The School Nurse, played by Natalie Hale, tries to calm Mrs. Yeagle (Dare Strickland) the bus driver whose granddaughter, Leslie, has been tortured by Gladys and has paperclips on her teeth for braces.  Natalie's yankee accent adds a flare to the production.  Also adding flare is none other than Taylor West who plays Mrs. Wendleken.  She is well spoken and quite demanding but is put in her place by the District Supervisor (Kelsey Dial) who thinks Imogene Herdman (Kire Stenson) is a saint for letting them out of the teacher's lounge. 

Highlight of the show is the Woodrow Wilson Talent Show, where the audience actually participates and votes for the best talent.  Kelsey Dial (District Supervisor) sings the National Anthem, Alice Wendleken (Cali Stenson) signs to "We Give Thanks", Miss Kemps class does a dance routine to "Doing the Zombie, and Miss Phillips, the DHS Social Worker, played by Molly Omohundro, and Miss Harrison (Mary Omohundro) do a duet tap dance routine to the song "Lollipop" sung by Miss Kemp (Brittany Dawn) and Mrs. Yeagle (Dare Strickland).  Eugene Preston (Eli Corbin) surprises his classmates with a talent using walnuts and the Herdman clan even surprise the crowd with their own rendition of Jailhouse Rock.  Master Rudy Lupinski accompanies the production on the keyboard and plays the fire chief who awards the school for their speed and safety during the fire drill (only cause the Herdmans are absent due to the chicken pox).

 B.J. Echard portrays the perfect father as Bob Bradley.  His expertise adds to the typical 1950's dinner table scenes.  Vickie Cowger is amazing as she plays Grace Bradley the mother to Charlie (Brock Mann) and Beth (Rosie Jenkins).  Her facial expressions are fantastic and left me laughing.  These four actors do a wonderful job demonstrating the innocence of the family life from that era. 

Imogene Herdman, played by Kire' Stenson, is one to be heavily praised.  She is animated, expressive and controls the mood of the play.  The entire story unfolds when Beth Bradley (Rosie Jenkins) discovers that Imogene is "sympathetic".  The rough and tough Herdman girl really has a soft side. 

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