HAMPDEN, Maine — Karyn spent her years at Bangor High School playing basketball, and Zach? He didn’t even go to school as we think of it, having been home-schooled the whole way except for one year.
Now they’re Mr. and Mrs. Field, married for going on seven years and proud parents of 4-year-old Owen and, oh yes, in the midst of co-directing “Radio Daze,” the play that’s set for 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 26-27, at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden.
This is the seventh year the pair has directed the middle-school play together, and the theater business is booming at the school. The number of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders trying out for the play each year is now 60 to 70, more than triple what it used to be.
This year’s cast numbers 28 with more than 20 students helping out with the technical side of the production. Some of those who worked in technical assistance last year moved up to acting this year.
“One of the major things is that the play involves kids from every group in school,” said Karyn, who teaches eighth-grade language arts at Reeds Brook. “That’s something I’m really proud of.”
Cast and crew members are Max Iannazzi, Logan Lafayette, Morgan Springer, Jessica Jordan, Katie Asalone, Sam Jordan, Kelsey Price, Taylor Wagner, Angie Iannazzi, Colin Reeve, Courtney Dixon, Renee Michaud, Meredith Prescott, Michelle Rocker, Jeff King, Madlin Mekelberg, Sammi Brown, Simon Burditt, Kyle Grogan, Ali Russell, Annie Hawkins, John Rocker, Chelsea Covey, Megan Dunroe, James Cowin, Wil Huston, Ethan Casavant, Alyssa Bean, Taylor Davis, Nicole Quigley, Chareeda Rustanavibul, Reed Farrar, Linda Kehr, Taylor Avery, Mary Seekings. Arielle D’Haiti, Paige Rainford, Emily Luce, Melissa Trostel, Josh De Lima, Nick Jesiolowski, Riley Woods, Trever Kohls and Linda Kehr.
“Radio Daze” by Shirley McNichols is a three-act comedy with a minimalist set and a striking black-and-white backdrop by painter Kehr.
“It’s set in the 1940s,” Zach said, “a radio soap opera with a German spy, romances and two has-been Vaudeville stars.”
One spy plot gets mixed up with another when two sisters get jobs to find out a little inside company information. Overheard rumors, mixed-up scripts and leaked secret information combine with romance and laughter in a salute to the glorious days of radio.
As school ended at Reeds Brook recently, student actors wandered into the cafeteria-auditorium to pick up costumes which had just arrived.
Karyn was assistant director on a production of “Radio Daze” at the school more than a dozen years ago. Good plays that have lots of parts, yet still fit on the school’s small stage are prized.
“We tend to pick plays that are more for high schools,” Zach said. “The kids get more involved if they have good characters and a good script.”
And a real team leading them.
Zach may be in the thick of things onstage — on the floor even — checking the positioning of feet so that all players are where they’re supposed to be.
Karyn takes charge of the producing and costumes.
“I’m a terrible organizer,” Zach said. And modest.
Though the students may be familiar with Zach Field, juggler and magician, who is a staple of school and library programs and fairs, they probably haven’t heard about the praise he’s drawn acting in everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to “Sweeney Todd.”
And they may not know that Karyn grew up going to “tons of theater” even though she spent much of her school years in Bangor playing basketball.
The focus is on the kids, whether they’ve grown in acting or are taking on a part for the first time, or maybe come up with a great idea to make the technical side better.
And these days, it’s all for “Radio Daze.”