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Cottage Grove student actors' confidence awakened by 'Sleeping Walter' play

Cottage Grove Middle School student Cole Ambroz plays the lead role in the school's production of "Sleeping Walter." Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

The theme of the play, "Sleeping Walter," to be performed by Cottage Grove Middle School actors fits with the message teachers want to give to their students.

The character Walter doesn't believe he can do anything successfully so he retreats to his dreams where he can do everything. Achieving what he wants with no effort is not what Walter should be thinking about, according to his sister, Grace.

Walter, like other middle school students, needs confidence, a concept that fits with the school's mascot, the cougar. Students should have "cougar pride and confidence," said Maria White, play director and language arts teacher.

"We want the kids to know that failure isn't the end of the world," White said in a recent interview as she and the cast prepared to stage the play Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, March 3.

If what they're doing doesn't work out, they should learn from it and move on, White said.

This year, she's bringing back "Sleeping Walter," her first play six years ago that also has a whopping cast of 67 students.

"This is a family, I tell the kids," White said.

The play is a great experience for families with singing, dancing and even some "aliens," she said.

Actors agree that being in the school play is a great way to make new friends while learning how to act and cooperate with others toward the goal of giving a great performance.

As the radio voice of the Red Sox baseball team in the play, middle schooler Isaac Paurus said his is a voice that projects well. He tried out for the play because he wants to get more acting experience,

"I like acting, too," said Connor Mitchell, who's stage manager for the production. But he also likes helping others and accepted the manager's job for this production.

Faith Milon, who plays Dr. Wise, said she's always like acting, being the center of attention and singing.

Shelby Porter plays Walter's sister and has had a passion for acting since she was very young. "Each character is unique and you get to shape your character," she said.

Since he was a youngster, Cole Ambroz, who plays Walter, likes to go into character and try to fool his friends.

"I like to be the character more than myself," he said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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