First play in the Huss Center is also a world premiere

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Photo Credit: Jonah Harrison

Sixth grader Isabella Tunney (Debbie Fine) pedals to save her family and stop robbers, while seventh grader Maren Ostrem, Debbie’s older self, narrates the adventurous story of Dizzy Fantastic. “When Debbie learns that she can fly on her bicycle, she feels empowered to become Dizzy Fantastic, super hero!” Hueller said.

Jonah Harrison, Staff Writer

As the first play in the new Huss Center for the Performing Arts, the Middle School performed Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24. Director of the MS theater program Mary Kay Orman, wanted to go with something new. “When Andy approached me last year and asked me if I would ever consider doing Dizzy Fantastic for a MS fall play production, I was thrilled! This is a wonderful story about resiliency, empowerment, and unleashing the superhero within. What better way to start out in the new Huss Center than with a new play written by an esteemed colleague and published writer?” Orman said.

Middle School and Upper School English teacher Andy Hueller spent time this past summer turning the book into a script. Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle had its world premiere right here at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. As an author and newly made playwright, Hueller explained what it was like to turn a book into a play

“It was really hard, and also really fun. But I had never taken a story I had written for the page and tried to make it visual,” Hueller said. The book was originally written for Hueller’s wife as a story to read while she traveled for business.

“My wife’s name is Debbie, as is that of the main character in Dizzy Fantastic, and ever since she and I became friends in college, I told her that Dizzy Fantastic would be her superhero name and that I was going to write a superhero story about her at some point,” Hueller said. 

Hueller’s wife ended up telling him to actually write the book after he had been telling her about the name for years, thus beginning the writing process.

Sixth grader Isabella Tunney played the young Debbie and seventh grader Maren Ostrem played the older Debbie who is the Narrator of the show.

Dizzy Fantastic was the first full-length play performed in the new space.

I had never taken a story I had written for the page and tried to make it visual.”

— Middle and Upper School English teacher Andy Hueller

“It’s so cool. That space, as everybody says, seems to be particularly remarkable for a school space…I think it just ramps up the enthusiasm for the show,” Hueller said.

Dizzy Fantastic is the story of a fourth grade girl who gets bullied at school. When a tragedy strikes, Dizzy’s abilities are tested and she must learn to trust herself.  As part of rehearsal, the cast has been having many discussions about how to prevent bullying. They have talked about how to not be a bystander and how to stop the problem.

“I ask students to think about a time when they showed courage. The answers ranged from ‘I auditioned for the musical’ to ‘I stood up for a friend who was getting teased by a classmate,’” Orman said.

Performances ran Oct. 23 at 7:00 and Oct. 24 at 4:00 in the Huss Center.