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March 22, 2013

NEW BREMEN — If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then the lavaliere, a necklace with fraternity letters, is the friendly neighbor you want to know better.

The necklace, a 1930s college precursor to the modern promise ring, is at the center of the new play “Ode to Lavaliere,” which is being performed at 7 p.m. today and at 7 p.m. Saturday at New Bremen High School.

Director and playwright Dan Keyes characterized the play as a romantic comedy set on a college campus that was written with each student in mind for his or her part.

Keyes, who’s written five plays for New Bremen High School, began writing plays for the drama department when he realized there was a need for plays that address the demographic that shows up to a high school club. He needed plays with big, female-heavy casts with few men.

“We’re talking nurses, nuns, female warriors,” he said.

Also he said he needs to have parts that, while not too small, allow student athletes to participate while maintaining practice schedules.

“They’re given a script in January,” Keyes said. “The second thing we do is start blocking. Then one at a time, in flu season, they get sick. Then a few weeks before we open, panic sets in and they realize people are going to see them in this, and they memorize their lines.”

When dress rehearsals start, the play begins to come together. While Keyes starts out giving students more notes, and stopping them mid-scene, by the end of rehearsals, he no longer needs to give them pointers. The students pull together, and some, he said, are talented. The students dress up the acting with music underscoring the play, scenery, which Keyes paints, lights, makeup and costumes.

The digital video editing class will film the production from several angles and cut together the product as a class project. A small preview performance was given Thursday night, but the play will continue through Saturday with a cast of 37 students.

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