Island School thespians present play by Mark Twain

Lost for over a century, “Is he Dead,” was discovered, resurrected and revamped for Broadway last year. Now Kaua‘i audiences can delight in Twain’s wonderful sense of humor and the talented acting of Island School’s high school students.

The story is of 19th Century French artist, Jean-François Millet, who is destitute until his friends devise the perfect path to fame and fortune — his death. Millet’s death is faked and highly publicized, thus making his paintings sky rocket in value. Millet returns as his “widowed twin sister” to handle his affairs, setting up hilarious situations and biting satirical moments.

“I was intrigued when I found this ‘new’ play by Mark Twain. He’s always been one of my favorite writers and I’ve directed many plays based on his works,”  said director, Peggy Ellenburg in a press release. “To find something he actually wrote as a play was a real treasure.”

Island School produces several plays each year; two with high school students, one with middle school students, and a fifth grade play.

As with all of Ellenburg’s productions, parents, students and friends volunteer to build sets, make costumes and complete other production tasks. The sets  for “Is He Dead” were designed and constructed by one of Kaua‘i’s long-time theatre people, Laurel Petterson McGraw.

Petterson McGraw is a former Island School parent and has been assisting Ellenburg for over 15 years.

Also helping are former Island School parent, Denese Alcott, her daughter from the Class of 2005, Kasey Alcott Fernandes and current parent, Patrick Dunham.

Eighth grade student Ava Zebzda, is following in her artistic parents’ footsteps (Carol Bennett and Wayne Zebzda) to add her own touches to the set. Other students helping with set-building are Daniel Miller, Melissa Seymour, and Angelica Pearson.

Island School parent and seamstress, Valerie Ray, is doing costume design and construction, with assistance from another parent, Cynthia Libert. KKCR DJ and Kaua‘i theatre personality, Richard Porto, (Cousin Rich), has volunteered in the areas of dialect coaching and make-up.

For more information call director, Peggy Ellenburg 246-0233, ext. 262, or

Want to go?

When: 7 p.m., Dec. 4, 5 and 6; plus matinee 2 p.m., Dec. 6 

Where: Island School Theatre

Cost: Tickets $5 at the door or from cast members


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