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Galax High School performing arts students are back on top of their game this year with a performance of “The Diviners,” a play by Jim Leonard Jr.
“The Diviners” is a tribute to the Great Depression, small towns and the blessings of life. In the play, C.C. Showers abandons his career as a minister during the Great Depression and stumbles into the small Indiana town of Zion to look for work — only to find that the town has been without a preacher for 10 years.
Buddy Layman, a young boy who nearly drowned as a child, soon befriends the tender-hearted former minister.
A live bluegrass band weaves the intimate moments of small town life together, and a surprise ending pulls the audience back to the central theme of accepting the blessings of life as they come.
A second-place finish to Bland in the Mountain Empire District theater competition on Oct. 30, 2008, fired the actors, musicians and crew up for a regional blowout on Nov. 15 at James River High School, where Galax took first place.
During the critique session, all judges could say about the performance was “Wow, wow and wow,” said B.J. Carroll, director of the high school performing arts department.
Matt Hanks and Ben Chaffee received best actor recognition at the regional level, while Marie Orton and Brandon Phipps were honorable mentions.
In its 18th trip to the Virginia High School League Group-A State Theatre Festival, Galax placed third, and Hanks was recognized with a state best actor award.
The cast featured many newcomers and amazingly talented high school musicians, including Hanks as Buddy Layman, Chaffee as C.C. Showers, Phipps as Ferris Layman and Orton as Jennie Mae Layman.
The small town of Zion's residents also include Tyler Matthews as Dewey Maples, Josh Kohl as Basil Bennett, Tayler Engelhardt as Norma Henshaw, Shannon Pryor as Luella Bennett, Raven Slater as Goldie Short and Catelynd Whittle as Darlene Henshaw.
Musicians Ben Hill (mandolin), Makenzie Neff (bass), Ashley Nale (banjo) and Ethan Campbell (guitar) brought a rhythm and gentle flow to the production.
Other crew members included Tyler Carpenter, Travis Cummings, Jacob Kohl, Jesse Phillips, Karan Kumar and Jared Vaughan.
Carroll said Kumar served diligently as assistant to the director, understudy for two female roles and hairdresser.
• The public is invited to one final production of the show on Sunday at the GHS auditorium at 3:45 p.m. The show lasts 35 minutes, and there is no charge for admission.