Come for the Show, Stay for the Chow

Frederick students take to the stage–and the stove–this Saturday for a unique competition


Julissa Solorzano, Staff Writer

What’s better than dinner? Dinner and a show.

What’s better than dinner and a show? When both the dinner and the show are contests.

On February 26, Frederick Theatre and Frederick Green Club are hosting a doubleheader. From 10 am to noon, the school’s annual student-directed one-act competition will be held in the auditorium. Immediately afterward, Frederick is hosting its first-ever Chili Cookoff in the Commons. The cookoff lasts until 2 pm, where everyone will be asked to return to the auditorium for the announcement of the winners.

This event is the brainchild of Mr. Coon and Mrs. Smith, who are cohosting the event in an effort to raise money for the Green Club and upcoming theatre trip to Nationals. “We wanted to do something that would bring in members of the community that have been hesitant to step into the school because of the pandemic,” Mr. Coon said.

While some fundraiser events can be pricey, it’s free to watch the one act plays and, if you watch all the one-acts all the way through, you will get your an unlimited bowl of chili, bottle of water, and all the fixings for free too. If you just want to attend the cookoff, your chili bowl is $5. Coon and Smith are keeping the cost of attendance low so more people can come–they hope that the true fundraising comes from donations and concessions sold instead of a ticket fee.


Action in the Auditorium

The student-directed one-act festival is an annual tradition at Frederick, returning after a brief hiatus last year due to the pandemic. The rules are simple: the student enrolled in Mr. Coon’s Directing class must choose a play that runs under 20 minutes, choose a cast of student actors, and make their play “the most realized production they can–this means the most complete, solid show possible,” Mr. Coon told us.

This year, four students are competing for that Best Production award:

  • Senior Thomas Beeker is directing Bittersweet Lullaby, a musical one act by Will Lacker and Dylan Glatthorn. The one-act features a man and a woman divided by decades but connected through music. “I really fell in love with this script as soon as I read it,” Thomas told us. “It really shows the power of music to transcend time and space.”
  • Senior Will Greiner is directing English Made Simple by David Ives, which is a satire of modern dating culture. Jack (Jack Smith) and Jill (Peyton Siders) play two people trying to connect at a party while two instructors explain everything they’re doing. “I like how this play mocks the idea of how arbitrary language really is,” says sophomore Jack Smith. “Will has been great too–he’s been very flexible and open to suggestions, which I really value in a director.”
  • Junior Alex Smith is directing The Proposal by Stephen Bittrich, a play about a high-born woman forced into a relationship with a man she despises. “This is like nothing I’ve ever played before,” said junior Kaydence Young, who plays one of the leads in the play. “I mean, I’ve played villains before, but it’s been hard to connect to the status of the character and the language of the script. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with Alex.”
  • Junior Rylee Lorimer is directing It’s Not You by Craig Pospisil. As the title implies, it’s a breakup story, but not one that you may expect. “I really like how ironic and humorous this show is,” Rylee said. “Directing is a big commitment, but I’m so glad I did this.”

Like any competition there are additional rules: no play can share actors, they all have to work with the same set of lights, and their entire set has to fit inside a 5′ by 5′ square called “the box.”  “I like the box in principle,” director Will Greiner told us, “but then when you actually get to it, it’s a real pain. It’s a much smaller space than it seems, and making sure everything fits in it is a challenge.” To keep everything fair, junior Kay Anderson and their team of stagehands will observe the entire setup and tear-down process.

The plays will be adjudicated by a panel of community, both those that have worked in school theatre and those who have done community and professional theatre. After the plays are done (and the chili cookoff begins), each director and their cast will meet with the adjudicators, who will give them feedback on their shows. These judges will then decide which show gets Best Production as well as one of three Adjudicator Choice trophies, which they can award for anything they choose.


Cooking in the Commons

While the one-acts are going on in the auditorium, chefs from all around the community will be setting up crock pots and warmers in the commons. As soon as the last one-act returns its set to the box, the chili cookoff begins.

Just like the one-acts, the cookoff has rules. Contestants must precook their chili and bring it to Frederick in some sort of warmer, and contestants must preregister so the festival crew can make sure that every chef has power. Each chef will have 3-5 quarts of chili to share with a list of all of their ingredients in front of their serving station (and sorry, but since this is a school event, beer chili is forbidden).

Unlike the one-acts, the chili cookoff has no judges: instead, the members of the audience will vote with their dollars. Each chili pot will have a canister in front, and whichever canister has the largest amount by 2 pm wins. All the money collected during the voting will be donated to Frederick Green Club and Frederick Theatre, and the Audience Favorite chili will win a trophy and some cooking-related prizes.

“I believe the Theatre and Green Club working together has a lot of potential,” Mrs. Smith told us. “When Mr. Coon and I were chatting, it just made sense to work together. I hope we get a lot of attention for our wonderful yet often ignored one-acts and a lot of attention for Green Club’s upcoming projects.”

“But mostly,” she added, “I’m just excited about chili.”