The matriarchs of the two feuding clans of the hills, the Tollivers (left) and the Calhouns, square off in this scene of the play Hillbilly Hayride. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Homeschool play to take audience for a ride

Ponoka Thespians showcase a feud, a twist and a wedding

This year’s production by home-schooled students isn’t just redneck, it’s a Hillbilly Hayride.

A huge cast of students from central Alberta have again come together for a Ponoka Thespians production slated to run March 4 to 6 at the Asker Lutheran Church, about one mile east and one mile north of Mecca Glen School.

This time it is about a family feud up in the hills that has been going on for around 200 years.

It’s gotten so famous two big city publishing companies are vying for the rights to tell the story. However, the situation winds up with a tremendously interesting twist and some great comedic laughter throughout.

Debbie and Dean Zepick are once again leading the group of kids willing to show off some talent on stage.

“This year there were a lot of parts, so we have a really big cast once again, even having to write in a few parts so all the students had one,” Debbie said in an interview at a rehearsal on Feb. 21.

“The kids really love it and have made the play very interesting to deliver.”

The two-act play, based on a book by Tim Kelly, has several challenges for the troupe, according to Debbie.

“It’s the same pattern and length as a standard musical, but it has a lot of visible movement for such a big cast,” she said.

“And while the stage space may be compact, the venue is a nice size and makes the students learn to project their voices. It also helps the acoustics are very live in the building.”

While readings took place back in December, the moving about the stage and full cast rehearsals didn’t get started until the first week in January.

“It usually takes us about 10 weeks of preparation to be ready for the actual performances,” she added.


The one performance that sells out quickly is the Dessert Night show, which this year will be at 7 p.m. on March 5. Tickets for this showing are $15 and are available by calling Julie at 403-391-7898.

The other performances are set for March 4 and 6 at 7 p.m., with a family matinee — intended specifically for seniors and younger families — going on March 6 at 1:30 p.m. Admission will be a freewill offering.

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One of the Tolliver clan gets whacked for messing up while the Calhouns try to listen in and figure out what they are up to. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

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