Manhattan High School thespians displayed their talents on stage without masks for the first time in a year Thursday evening.

The MHS Drama and Thespian Troupe 941 presented “A Night of Scenes,” a collection of five one-act plays written, directed and performed entirely by students. The performances were capped off by a choreographed dance routine, and MHS Student Media livestreamed the performances on YouTube.

About 70 people attended the evening of one-acts, most of which were somewhat comedic in nature. MHS senior Ronan Tanona helped write and direct, as well as acted in, a play titled “A Day in the Life of Mr. Newman.” Tanona played Hugh Newman, who is arrested by federal agents and taken to court.

“He doesn’t know why he’s being prosecuted,” Tanona said, “but it turns out the government is trying to sue him for the entire national debt, to like, get rid of it.”

Tanona said his play — which ended with a person in a raccoon costume chasing away a TV reporter — was “not serious at all” and that his team wanted to take a “very light-hearted” approach. He said it was great to be on stage without masks after a more “subdued” Night of Scenes event last year.

“I think this year we’re really getting the drama program into full force,” Tanona said. “I think everyone’s had a lot of fun getting back into this kind of environment.”

Tanona has been a thespian at MHS for all four years, and he said he will likely continue in theater post-high school.

Senior Anna Keenan wrote a short play called “Let’s Make This Haunted House a Home” in her creative writing class, and she said her fellow directors helped her edit it for the stage.

“We had a bunch of really amazing kids audition, and we got a really great cast this year,” Keenan said.

This was Keenan’s first time seeing something she’s written performed on stage.

“It’s so weird seeing the words you wrote being spoken to a whole bunch of people in the audience,” Keenan said.

Keenan also played a role in Tanona’s play, “A Day in the Life of Mr. Newman.” She said students “really missed” having more creative opportunities and events like the Night of Scenes performances, and that it means a lot to see people in the audience laughing at the jokes and enjoying themselves.

A second performance of “A Night of Scenes” will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the MHS Rezac Auditorium. The event is free to attend.

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