The 2015 Niagara District Sears Drama Festival continued Friday at Welland Centennial Secondary School. It marks the 69th season for the Ontario Sears Drama Festival. This year’s adjudicator is Jessica Carmichael, the new Artistic Director for Carousel Players in St. Catharines.

A.N. Myer Secondary School opened Thursday’s shows with Showdown at Sand Valley by Ken Mitchell. Directed by Ms Tracy Garrett the play was a Western comedy, a delightfully funny melodrama complete with the drawl. 

The opening scene featured narrator Destiny Clark who set the scene also played barkeep throughout the play. The large cast was enthusiastic, worked well together and all female, a delightful twist in casting. “They all had strong entrances” Carmichael noted. 

The set was excellent, a comic book setting with beautifully painted relief textures and bright colours. The costumes were well detailed in a great mix of earth tones and bright colours. The sound and music design was detailed with old western tunes with recorded and live sound effects. The clever gunshots, each time they were repeated more ricochets were added, accenting humour in each situation.
Ella Burch in first scene established a slow drawl, often cracking jokes throughout the play. Mrs. McAllister, played by Kaitlyn Haynes was very strong vocally and energetic and dynamic with her performance. The bar scenes were lively and well staged.

Montana Bill, the villain, was played by Chelsea Toews, excellent as a Wild West gunslinger. She worked well with Haynes, creating several hilarious moments. Moms always win, though. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Carmichael suggested. 
The final confrontation with the RCMP officer played by Sarah Harmer in the bar was lots of fun, the whole cast pitching in to make the scene engaging and colourful. There was “nice tension in the gunfight” Carmichael commented.