TUPELO - Tupelo High School’s Theatre Company has a “whodunit” on its hands.

There will be plenty of evidence for mystery and laughter this week when the company presents “Every Little Crook and Nanny,” a two-act comedy, at the THS Fine Arts Auditorium.

“There is a bank robbery. There are multiple suspects, and hopefully we’ll keep you guessing until the very end,” said Allana Austin, the THS theatre teacher and director of the play.

Performances are set for 7 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $6. 

The play is part of a busy pre-holiday schedule for the theatre department and the school’s Thespian Troupe 1949. They will host a Christmas cabaret Nov. 22 at the THS media center.

“Every Little Crook and Nanny,” written by Pat Cook, is set in the boarding house run by Lillie (played by Susanna Latner),a retired nanny. Her friends, Jocelyn (Emily Paul) and Carmella (Elana Dearing), often visit Lillie. Stu (Will Chappell), a past acquaintance of Lillie’s, rents a room at the boarding house with plans of robbing a nearby bank.

When the robbery is reported, Chief Collins (Ava Grace Lacey) shows up to find a house full of suspects. Could it have been Stu or his pal, Pat (Trenel Gibson), who pulled off the heist? Was it Teddy (William Strickland), the cool guy with a mysterious past? Even the nannies, especially Lillie, look suspicious.

Austin said the young actors have enjoyed revisiting a play that was performed at THS in the 1990s. In her classes, Austin allows students to review scripts to find plays they might want to perform during the company’s season.

“We’ll have a whole week where we talk about selecting a season,” she said “We’ll read the plays aloud, and if something tickles their fancy or they say, ‘These are great characters,’ then we add it. If they like it, they’re going to audition for it.”

Strickland, a THS junior, said he enjoys performing in comedies. He adds it’s a challenge to make the audience laugh without breaking character.

“You can feel loose,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun. You can experiment more with it and find a character.”

The students, Austin said, learn how a comedy can be part of a balanced theater season along with musicals, dramas and one-act plays.

“They can be funny and have people laugh, and there are times when we laugh at each other. It’s just so goofy with physical comedy and the one-liners,” she said. “We have to learn about timing, holding for laughs and trying to ride the energy of the laugh.”

A week after the play, the Theatre Department will provide Christmas entertainment and treats during the cabaret fundraiser in the school’s media center.

“The students have chosen different variety show acts, improv scenes, Christmas songs, Christmas scenes to perform,” Austin said. “We’ll serve dessert, so the audience can watch the performance while enjoying their Christmas pudding or pie.”

Tickets for the cabaret are $10 and can be purchased at the school office. 

For more information about the play or the cabaret, call (662) 840-1841.

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