Overview of The Law West of Pecos


Anevay Ambrosiani, the procrastinating writer

If you look at my staff profile, you could see that I have already written an article about the drama program here at Seward High. Although, back in 2017, Meghan Mullaly and I were fighting to have a drama program, while this year, I am flexing it. 

In honor of it being his last year at Seward High School, Dan Marshall has stepped up to be the director for the drama program. For three decades, Marshall’s reputation inspired my fellow classmates and I to pursue theater.

Marshall decided for his last production he would direct The Law West of Pecos a second time, 25 years later. August and September went by nicely, with students reading the script masked up and testing each other to memorize lines. Unfortunately, by the end of October, things quickly went downhill when the town reached a high amount of Covid cases, forcing the school to shift to online learning. 

The persistent drama class practiced scenes over Zoom. Since Zooming scenes wasn’t ideal, once Covid cases decreased, the cast was able to get the theater open for evening practices three nights a week. Repetitive rehearsals of acts one, two and three, while critiquing every technique (even speech tones) on stage, allowed students to get comfortable in their character. 

Once school transferred back to in-person in January, Marshall conducted a mitigation plan so that the cast could perform for the community. This plan consisted of the masked actors seated six feet apart behind the curtains as they sat patiently waiting for their cue, then they proceeded on stage unmasked. 

As for the audience, in order to attend the performance, families and individuals had to pay and reserve a seat in advance. Thankfully, Andrew Scrivo was able to set up a sign-up system online, making it easy for community members to contribute to the high school. With the help of Ronn Hemstock, Marshall measured the seats in the theater to find its Covid-friendly capacity: 75. 

How does that work for bigger parties? you may be wondering. Well, approaching each performance, Hemstock and Marshall assigned families as close to their desired spot in the theater, then placed the next party six feet away. 

Upon receiving news that the mitigation plan was approved by the district, everyone was smiling with relief, but each scheduled performance still came with uncertainty. Marshall and his drama class had to wait to be authorized by the district every week in order to get approval for the coming weekend performances. Meaning, if the show proved to be the cause of an outbreak, the district had the power to shut us down. Luckily, an outbreak never occurred. 

The class’s hard work and months of dedication demonstrated worthy when they proudly presented the production for student body, then an additional four times for the community–the first performances in Alaska since the pandemic. Yet, with two more scheduled, the district received a complaint about actors not wearing masks on stage and quickly cancelled them. 

The district’s one solution to keep students performing required wearing masks on stage. Many would say that solution was reasonable. However, acting requires facial expressions and proper annunciation of words, which is everything a mask would cover. It wouldn’t give the audience a full theatrical experience. It is like baking a beautiful cake for the president, but putting no icing on it, or like building a car with no stereo. It simply was not worth diminishing the production’s potential. 

On the last day of drama class for the semester, when this news was broken to the cast, everyone was able to take an autographed program, and say their final goodbyes to the beautiful set built by the high school stagecraft team. It was sad, but everyone involved expressed gratitude for this opportunity despite the abrupt end. 

The Law West of Pecos was an exquisite work of art and the final performance for many persistent actors. Selma Casagranda has been incorporated in many community and school conducted plays. She says that “Being a part of The Law West of Pecos has been one of my favorite projects that I have been a part of during high school. The best part was the collaboration and the fact that each and every member of the show was passionate, driven, and striving for perfection. I am so grateful I got to be a part of it, and will forever have so much appreciation for Mr. Marshall and the rest of the cast/crew for all the hard work and talent.” 

Tegan Retzer has similar thoughts, saying she feels “proud” and that “it took a lot of time and effort from the cast and crew, and in the end, it was a brilliant production.”

Trey Ingalls is a more recent member of the acting crew who “felt honored and had lots of fun performing alongside awesome classmates😎 I’m thankful that I got to be a part of it!”


Here are the graduates who were involved in their last production at Seward High and the roles/jobs they had:

Trey Ingalls- Orin Powers

Lucas Brockman- Johnny Behind the Ace & Sound

Jacob Wendt- Judge Roy Bean

Devon Campbell- Cayo Clairborne

Tegan Retzer- Mrs. Powers

Katelyn Lemme- Mrs. Oates

Emmalee Deland- Mrs. Hayes

Anevay Ambrosiani- Montana

Selma Casagranda- Lily Langtry

Hana Cooney- Set & Lights

Emily Unrein- Set & Lights

Aron Kuller- Set & Lights

Jared Dean- Sound


If you would like to see the performance on your screen, here are the links to watch Act 1, 2, and 3 of this marvelous play.

Act 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3c-VKsxZWI

Act 2 – https://youtu.be/7-ds7IiZvZ4

Act 3 – https://youtu.be/irdzjSYkIPw


What will the drama class do now? This creative group of teens wanted to keep the class going but in a different manner. The suggestion of breaking into small groups and creating music videos stuck with the students, and now they are working on their second music video of the second semester. Now, the students focus on videography techniques such as: zoom-ins/outs, panning, slow motion, short clips, light changes, and storytelling. 

If you would like to see what the drama class first produced, you can find their video here on the site under the article, “Drama Class Music Videos”. The link here: https://shstoday.org/6809/showcase/drama-class-music-videos/