The classics meet the supernatural

Led by director Annie Pedersen, the Cannon Falls one-act play performed for the community and in competitions.


Bowen Maki

Lydia Pedersen reaches toward Paige Scherz during their community performance of the one-act play.

Through a cloud of hairspray, a forest of historical-style dresses, and a minefield of make-up, 14 actors from Cannon Falls High School made their way onto a new stage for this year’s One Act Play. 

Each year, Cannon Falls High School puts on three theatrical productions — a musical in the fall, a play in the spring, and a competitive one-act play during the winter. A little over a month ago, auditions opened for this year’s winter one-act: Little Women 2: Wrath of the Undead. 

Students from nearly every grade at the school put on their best show for director Annie Pedersen, who then assigned the young actors the role she saw fit. Pedersen currently has two daughters — a junior and a senior — that take part in the theater program in Cannon Falls, and when she saw the director’s position was open, she knew she needed to preserve the program. This was Pedersen’s first time directing a high school production and it came with its own struggles. 

The program was crunched into a short practice window with a small budget. Junior actress Meagan Pedersen touched on the hardest part of the production: “We had worked super hard to put the show together but our main actor, Wil, got sick the day of the sub-section tournament and we had to change our whole play on the spur of the moment.”

The cast was dressed in period garb during the performances of the one-act play. (Bowen Maki)

For weeks, the rag-tag group of actors organized and rehearsed an approximately 30-minute production. The play featured Juinor Paige Sherez and Freshman Wil Brokate as the main characters — a mother reading the age-old classic Little Women to her child but messing up the plot horribly. Although short, the one-act play is the most complex production put on by the Cannon Falls theater department every year. The nature of the competitive program requires the crew to create a simple and portable set, establish a minimalistic but effective wardrobe, and train a technical team to be able to function light and sound boards at the various high schools the production travels to during its season. Senior actress Lydia Pedersen expanded on the differences between this production and other shows: “Typically our shows have to be a couple of hours, but the one-act cannot exceed 35 minutes so we can perform it for a panel of judges at the other schools.” 

Finally, after hours of effort, the cast was ready to put on a show. Their first competition was HVL at Lourdes High School in Rochester on Saturday, January 21st. The competition was promptly followed by the sub-section competition on Saturday, January 28th at Triton High School. On Thursday, January 26th — sandwiched between HVL and sub-sections — the ensemble hosted a community night at their home school, open to the public and offering an opportunity for the cast to practice their production. With only four competitions for the whole season, the troupe had to make each rendition count. Unfortunately, the Cannon Falls crew placed 4th in the sub-section tournament, meaning they would not advance to the Section or State competitions this year.