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A classic crime caper

Isaac Friedman and Parker Creech are a pair, both onstage and off. Together, the duo battle the criminal underworld in Newton High School’s spring production, “Lucky Hudson and the 12th Street Gang.” Outside of the theatre they’re also close friends.

Friedman plays young writer Steve Jenkins in the production, who’s fighting a fever as he works on his latest crime novel, set to debut at a big league writing contest. When hero Lucky Hudson, played by Creech, leaps off the pages of his novel the pair set off on a zany caper set in the midst of the 1920s underworld.

Choosing this year’s spring production didn’t come easy for director Melinda Worthington, she read through a pile of scripts before she settled on the noir comedy. Learning the lingo of the flappers, mobsters and other underworld denizens has been a challenge for the cast, but Worthington said the play gives students a chance to stretch their abilities and have fun with their characters. The musical numbers written into the script were an added bonus, Worthington said.

“I wanted something with song and dance since we weren’t doing a musical this year,” Worthington said.

A departure from last fall’s production, “Lucky Hudson and the 12th Street Gang” trades the fairy tales and fantasy of last semester’s show for look at the criminal underworld of the 1920s. Together, Steve and Lucky Hudson square off against gangsters of all sizes, including Big Al, Little Al and Medium Al as they attempt to break up the gang’s biggest heist yet. Watching her actors embrace their roles and immerse themselves in the jazz age atmosphere has been a joy for Worthington.

“We had a moment when all of the Al’s had their dialog down, they came out with this New York gangster talk and it was just hilarious,” Worthington said.

The play’s loose structure and easy style gives students a chance to develop their characters on their own, something Creech said creates more opportunities to connect with their audience. As fearless gumshoe, Lucky Hudson, Creech is the production’s straight man, which he said is often tough in the midst of a comedy. Playing off his friendship with Friedman gives the pair an easy rapport and makes it easier for the audience to cheer on the pair through their misadventures.

“Isaac [Friedman] and I worked together to draw our characters,” Creech said. “The audience can see our relationship through the acting.”

Friedman couldn’t agree more, working with a close friend makes it easier to craft their characters, their friendship gives them a chance to explore their characters during rehearsals. While they’ve spent plenty of time working together Friedman has also spent long hours memorizing and perfecting his lines. As the lead actor, he has 217 lines. Memorizing each line has meant hitting the books to practice scenes nightly over and over again until he’s confident he has it down. Working together on character development with Creech gives him a chance to let loose, unwind and have fun with his character.

“We’re really close friends so we can joke around with each other and try things with our characters to see what works,” Friedman said.

Even with plenty of lines to learn, Creech and Freidman said they aren’t worried about opening night jitters when the curtain rises on Friday night’s performance. Creech said he’s confident the cast and crew have a hit on their hands this semester.

“It always comes together, I have faith in these people,” Creech said, as he gestured to the assembled cast.

The Newton High School drama department will present its spring production, “Lucky Hudson and the 12th Street Gang” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the NHS Center for Performance. Tickets are $5 each and are available at the door prior to the performance.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or

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