By Jeff Geer

Pine River High School

LEROY — The Pine River Drama and Choir students made a triumphant return to the stage, under the direction of Jessica Gardner, and student director Rebecca Ankney, with an exhilarating performance of "The Dastardly Doctor Devereaux!"

The premise of this delightfully dastardly tale revolves around the passing of Hanover D. Cash, and the fate of his tremendous fortune and the future of his prominent medical clinic.

Dr. Dogsbreath Devereaux (Jacob Johnson), a resident M.D. of the clinic, forsakes his Hippocratic oath in pursuit of capital gain by attempting to woo Hanover's widow, Lotta Cash (Stephanie Ashcroft). His dastardly plan turns even more dark when he enlists an accomplice, Nurse Hilda Hatchet (Carrie Coons) to help him dispose of the widow, should his plan to marry her be successful.

Complicating this plot is Wendy March (Shelby North), a newly minted nurse at the clinic with a mysterious past that turns out to have a serious impact on the outcome of this villainous tale.

The story line takes dizzying twists and turns as a love interest begins to evolve between Nurse Wendy and the valiant Dr. Phil Good (Cody Bradburn). Paralleling their romantic interludes is a roller-coaster relationship between Nurse Ivy Dripp (Hannah Waters) and the Handsome Orderly (Wade Fullerton).

As the play proceeds, the story is made more robust by the representation of the daily activities of the medical clinic. The clinic's P.A. system (Carissa Yeomans) constantly drones, paging medical staff with witty names like "Midwife Ketcham," that elicited giggling throughout the auditorium.

Patients pass in and out of scenes with comical medical issues, such as the cowboy stuntman (Gretchen Geer) who has no idea he has been shot with an arrow. Or the pregnant woman on the verge of childbirth (Kenzie Ruppert) who insists the appointed moment is desperately near.

Jacob Johnson ruled the stage with an animated portrayal of a villain that was most vaudevillian in nature, while Carrie Coons kept the audience rolling with laughter as she ranted and raved during all of the doctor's wooing and womanizing.

Some additional highlights of this dark and humorous musical were phenomenal performances by Mia Nichols and Hunter Ashcroft, whose wonderful character acting left me feeling like I stepped right into the Bronx of the 1930s!

All in all, the play was a smashing success, leaving the audience with confidence that they can expect  great things from the students of Pine River High, and in that, they will never be disappointed!