Officially, the co-op one-act team made up of students from Wausa and Osmond high schools is listed as Wausa-Osmond.
But cast members from the two schools prefer “Wausmond,” the mash-up they’ve become known as in high school play production circles.
Regardless of the name, Wausa superintendent Brad Hoesing — who co-directs the team with his wife, Sheila — said he is excited about what the students have accomplished in their first year as a play production co-operative.
Earlier this year, thespians from Osmond High School were invited to join Wausa High School’s one-act play production team when no director could be found for their school. Then, last Tuesday, the first-year co-op qualified for state by winning the Class C1-3 district competition. They’ll take to the stage of the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk on Thursday of this week to compete at the state level.
“Whether it’s Wausa or Osmond or Wausmond or whatever you want to call them, we have a group of kids here that really are competing at a high level, and I can’t wait to show people what they’re capable of (at state),” Brad Hoesing said.
Wausa is no stranger to success in play production. It has won the state championship in Class D1 or D2 for 11 of the past 12 years and is third among Nebraska schools with the most state one-act titles, trailing only Gretna with 24 and Norfolk Catholic with 12.
Hoesing said Osmond approached Wausa to discuss the the possibility of joining together for play production. So far, it’s been a positive for experience for both communities, he added.
In this year’s production — titled “Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge” — the Wausmond cast delivers a comedic spin on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Instead of focusing on Ebenezer Scrooge, the play focuses on the wife of Bob Cratchit, who is driven to extreme behavior by her bumbling husband and his penchant of bringing home stray children.
Hoesing said he and his wife chose the play because it was the right fit for the students and, because of the large ensemble needed for the play, it could accommodate the co-op’s cast and crew of 82.
“The nice thing about this piece is there’s a lot of ensemble roles. We have 20 Bob Cratchit children, which is why poor Mrs. Bob Cratchit is such a mess,” Hoesing said with a laugh. “Every time he goes out, he finds new orphan children to bring home.”
Auditions were conducted before summer break. Students were given certain script parts to read so the Hoesings could get a basic idea of each cast member’s talent level.
“We knew where our Wausa kids were at, and it was kind of fun to bring in Osmond kids because we didn’t know them,” Hoesing said. “We were pleasantly surprised to find the kind of talent they had, as well.”
Students from both schools have mixed well throughout the rehearsals and performances, and they’ve developed a fondness for the Wausmond name, he said.
“I don’t actually know where that name came from,” Hoesing said. “In the NSAA, we’re Wausa-Osmond, but the kids have taken the Wausmond name, they really like it.”
Hoesing said he couldn’t speak to the future of the co-op, but he believes both communities would be disappointed if it didn’t continue.
“Our kids are enjoying competing in a larger class, and I think the Osmond kids are enjoying competing in a program that’s highly competitive,” he said.
Right now, Hoesing said the focus is on the upcoming state performance, which will be at 2:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk.
“We’re really excited to compete in Class C1 and do the best of our abilities and make two communities proud of their kids,” he said.