For the first time in the history of Two Harbors High School, the one-act play not only won subsections, they won section finals as well, going on to compete in the State Festival at St. Catherine University on Thursday, February 8th.
The play presented was titled “Soapy Smith’s Winter Wish” by Thomas Hischak, based on O. Henry’s short story “The Cop and the Anthem”.
“Soapy Smith’s Winter Wish” opens in a 1906 New York City railway yard. There, two down on their luck young people, Tabby (played by Maren Stipe) and Cross-Eye (Lucy Beck) meet an Old Timer cooking stew (Nathan Holbeck). The Old Timer invites Tabby and Cross-Eye over, and Cross-Eye finds a few things in his pockets to add to the stew. As the three wait for the stew to cook, the Old Timer tells the story of Soapy Smith (Zander Lucas).
Soapy Smith, who once worked on Wall Street, has been fired and is now residing on a Madison Square Park bench. But winter is setting in, and Soapy wants somewhere warmer to stay for a while. Perhaps a trip to the island would do nicely. The only problem is that the island is a prison, and to get there, Soapy will have to get himself arrested.
As the play continues, Soapy attempts to commit all sorts of crimes. He begins by eating at a diner and refusing to pay. But instead of being arrested, Soapy is viciously (and humorously) kicked out by the owner, Mrs. Soames (Caroline Selvog), while the young waitress Elsie (Toby McDonald) looks on.
Next, Soapy attempts to be a nuisance, purposefully annoying a woman sitting in the park, Sandra (Natalie Tillich), only for Sandra to decide she doesn’t mind being annoyed. Adding to Soapy’s disappointment in his failed attempt to be annoying, the policeman on duty (Kory Beck), doesn’t take notice of his allegedly criminal behavior.
Soapy then decides to try vandalism, breaking a store window. But when a policeman (Jordyn Webster) arrives, Soapy’s claim to have broken the window is not believed; the blame is instead placed on two street urchins (Toby McDonald and Veda Swanton). No matter how many people (Cecilia Scherer, Vivian Olson) Soapy bothers, or how many laws he tries to break, Soapy just can’t get himself arrested so he can spend his winter on the island.
Finally, Soapy goes for a walk and ends up in front of a church, where he hears music playing. He realizes how selfish he’s been, and that he really could have spent his time helping others. With that change of heart, Soapy is prepared to put his life back together. Just then, a policeman appears, arrests him for loitering, and sends him off to the island.
The Old Timer finishes the stew and he, Tabby, and Cross-Eye prepare to eat just as Gimpy Peg (Silvia Scherer), a woman with a limp, shows up. The Old Timer gives Peg his seat and stews. A few moments later, a well-dressed gentleman, Hobbs (Kory Beck), comes and informs the Old Timer he must leave. The Old Timer gives Peg, Tabby, and Cross-Eye each some money, much to their confusion, as they thought he was just as penniless as them. The Old Timer then reveals that he is Soapy Smith, and that he turned his life around after his stay on the island.
Peg expresses her gratefulness, and in an aside to the audience, remarks that she can cancel her plans to get herself arrested for a trip to the island.
High school students didn’t just act in the play – they were also responsible for all the work behind the scenes. Iris Cannon and Ollie Hraban ran lights, with Hraban also running sound. Annelise Smith, Sara Elizabeth Owens, and Isabel Buesgens-Benson worked on set design and as stage hands. Harper Anderson did make-up, and Peyton Koskela served as the student director.
Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Soapy Smith’s Winter Wish”, for presenting a humorous and touching play to our schools and communities, and for reminding us that everyone has a story.