he blood splotches on the medical apron are fake, but the actress’ zeal as a demented dentist are as real as a root canal.

Ava Osowick’s wacky presentation is just one aspect giving Columbus East High School’s production of “The Good Doctor” a healthy bite of comedy Feb. 24 to 26 at Clarence Robbins Auditorium, 230 S. Marr Road.

“I am the crazy one,” Osowick said with a laugh backstage during a recent rehearsal.

The show includes eight Neil Simon vignettes inspired by the short stories of Anton Chekhov. It hinges on what director Kevin Welsh calls “a comic romp through the brain of a writer plagued with writer’s block and an artistic temperament.”

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“The characters will make audiences laugh and recognize similarities in their own lives and personalities,” he said.

Much of the show unfolds in the writer-narrator’s mind as he shares his work with the audience.

Welsh’s cast, including Osowick, immediately can relate to writer’s block when faced with school papers, essays and such. The actress mentioned that her basic solution to clear the clog comes via “a very, very long walk.”

Actor Colton Graffa smiled at the idea.

“That’s far more peaceful than what I do,” Graffa said. “I usually stay up almost all night, trying to figure it out.”

Truth be told, Graffa understands adjustment and flexibility. He has moved his performance passions from the Olympians football team to a local metal band and now to the stage, where he plays the narrator and a seducer of women in this current show.

“I’m not a mathematician, and I’m not a scientist,” Graffa said. “But I’ve always been good at writing. And I definitely understand writer’s block — especially in a test environment.”

Besides the vignettes, the production includes a minimalist set design. Instead of multiple backdrops to suggest the varied surroundings of each scene, Welsh opted to include pieces with segments of what appears to be cursive writing — as from a playwright or short story author — on them. That includes a park bench, a bedroom headboard and other items.

Plus, each character will carry a puzzle piece onstage when he or she makes their entrance. That piece will be placed on a wall and create an image at the end that will better tell the story of “The Good Doctor.”

With a smaller cast and crew, the setup also allows for a wiser use of resources. Stage manager and set designer Lauren Schumacher said she believes audience members definitely will notice such touches. But in her four years of behind-the-scenes work, she has happily remained anonymous to most ticket buyers.

“The better you do your job as a set designer, the less everyone will notice,” she said. “And that pretty well plays into my personality.”

Then she broke into laughter when asked if any audience member ever has offered direct feedback.

“Actually, our own parents or the parents of other techies usually are our only source of validation. There can be a small part of me that can get bummed about that.” she said. “But, usually, audience members can’t really tell we’re there.”

If you go

What: Columbus East High School’s production of the Neil Simon comedy, “The Good Doctor,” directed by Kevin Welsh.

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26.

Where: Clarence E. Robbins Auditorium, 230 S. Marr Road.

Cast members: Colton Graffa, Lyric Utterback, Quincy Smith, Ava Osowick, Madison Case, Julie Connor, Yuliya Nikolayecho, Riley Carmickle, Cole Schultheis, Delaney Jackson, Loryn Weddle, Lexi Parker, Sidney Lewis, and Zoe Clulow.

Admission: Suggested $5 at the door.

Information: 812-376-4396.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.