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Benton High School spring musical stayed dry through the flood, but just barely

  • Nearly 50 Benton Consolidated High School students spent the semester preparing for last weekend's performances of the musical 'Li'l Abner' at the Benton Civic Center. Directed by Gretchen Bennett and Ryan Patrick, the show had a three-day run during weather that was anything but 'typical.'

    Nearly 50 Benton Consolidated High School students spent the semester preparing for last weekend's performances of the musical 'Li'l Abner' at the Benton Civic Center. Directed by Gretchen Bennett and Ryan Patrick, the show had a three-day run during weather that was anything but 'typical.'
    Photo provided

  • It certainly wasn't a 'typical day' Sunday when cast and crew arrived for the final performance of 'Li'l Abner' to find the orchestra pit at the Benton Civic Center full of water from weekend storms.

    It certainly wasn't a 'typical day' Sunday when cast and crew arrived for the final performance of 'Li'l Abner' to find the orchestra pit at the Benton Civic Center full of water from weekend storms.
    Photo provided

 
Posted on 5/4/2017, 5:00 AM

The weather, anything but typical, could not have been worse for Benton Consolidated High School's weekend performances of "Li'l Abner."

Students and directors Ryan Patrick and Gretchen Bennett worked on the production all semester. The skies were already threatening Friday evening, opening night. Saturday's flooding issues around the region drew attention away from the show, but it didn't stop an audience from piling into the Benton Civic Center.

The closing performance Sunday should have been a piece of cake, except that cast and crew arrived to find the orchestra pit full of water. Fans and brooms were definitely necessary, as crews stepped in to dry it out in time for the 4 p.m. performance.

Patrick, who had previously played the role of "Marryin' Sam" in a John A. Logan College production of the show, said in a Facebook post that "this experience was a roller coaster ride, but -- in the end -- the cast and crew pulled it all together and put on one heckuva show."

Patrick said the show was not one the kids wanted to do.

"Most of them had never even heard of it." That changed, though, as rehearsals progressed throughout the semester.

Baili Diefenbach, who played two roles, a socialite and "Mayor Dawgmeat," posted on Bennett's Facebook page, "I definitely did not know nor want to do Lil Abner 6 months ago. Now I can wholeheartedly say this was one of the best shows I have been in."

As for Patrick, his "back aches, my feet hurt, and I unlocked a new level of exhaustion … but I wouldn't trade it for the world."