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Hinsdale South’s Deaf Drama Club Prepares For Murder Mystery

The actors shine on stage—and that’s just during rehearsal.

They say that practice makes perfect.

If the many rehearsal hours logged by Hinsdale South’s Deaf Drama Club are any indication, audience members are in for a treat during Friday’s performances of The Very Great Grandson of Sherlock Holmes by Bill Majeski.

 The 11 member cast began daily, three-hour long dress rehearsals this week. They have been rehearsing weekly since February for the comedy, which centers around descendants of the famous mystery-solver and his sidekick Watson as they try to fill the shoes of their ancestors.

The plot, of course, involves a whodunit murder mystery. Hilarity ensues throughout the play as Holmes, played by senior Nick Gaurige, is assisted by his ever-loyal counterpart Dr. Watson, who is played by special guest and Hinsdale South alum Dean Rickette, who is studying film production at College of DuPage.

The play is performed entirely in ASL (American Sign Language) along with the aid of two voice interpreters.

Comedic timing is necessary for delivering the laughs. You might think it would be hindered because the actors are using their hands constantly throughout the performance. But, this is not at all the case, as was evident during rehearsal.

The actors’ animated expressions and exaggerated gestures perfectly mimicked the dialogue, nailing the comedy.

This is Gaurige’s last high school role, and although he feels very ready to graduate, he reflected on his school acting career. 

“I feel a little sad,” said Gaurige through an interpretor about his last performance. “I like acting and being together with my friends.”

Gaurige has been acting since his freshman year, with some of his favorite roles being Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and his starring role in The Grinch.

Every thriller/mystery needs a sultry damsel in distress, and senior Tanya Nevarez fits the bill as Helga, donning a long blonde wig, high heels, blouse and pencil skirt. 

Nevarez, who also plays the role of Laverne Lovejoy, first started on the crew for the Deaf Drama Club’s productions before trying her hand at acting.

“I’m not at all nervous or shy about acting,” said Nevarez through an interpretor. She added that acting in a sexy role onstage was a particular challenge since it’s out of her normal realm of behavior.

Hershella Ashford has been directing plays for the Deaf Drama Club for six years. The club has been in existence almost as long as South’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, which began more than four decades ago, serving as the magnet program for deaf and hard of hearing students from DuPage and Western Cook Counties.

Ashford, who has a background in performance, enjoys directing the productions and is encouraged by the growing number of attendees each season.

The Little Theater is usually the site for Deaf  Drama productions, but this spring’s play will be shown in the bigger school auditorium to accommodate larger crowds.

“I’m just inspired by the kids,” said Ashford, smiling. “The night of the performance they really shine.”

Friday’s show times are at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for the morning show and $7 for the evening performance.

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