As usual, Grove City High School's fall play features a student cast and crew.

This year, the production also boasts a student playwright.

Senior Samuel Nickoloff wrote the original play, "The Adventures of Norm Allman."

The school has presented a student-written play before, about 10 years ago, but that was an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," said Stefanie McConnell, an English and drama teacher at the school.

"It's pretty special to be able to present an original play written by one of our students," she said. "Samuel's done a terrific job."

Although he has participated each year in the school's spring musical, Nickoloff said he's never tried to write a play before.

"This all started out kind of as a joke," he said. "Last year, I just sort of joked with Miss McConnell, 'Have you ever had a student write a play? Well, what if I wrote it?' We like to joke around a lot."

But McConnell said she began to take the suggestion seriously, especially as Nickoloff started talking about some ideas.

"I started brainstorming and worked on developing the story over the summer," Nickoloff said.

The two-act play is light-hearted with a lot of comic elements, he said.

"Norm is a typical high school kid. He's kind of nerdy and geeky," Nickoloff said. "He gets extremely lucky and tackles a bank robber who's trying to get away by accident and stops a would-be criminal by wrecking his car.

"He starts getting all of this attention and thought of as a kind of superhero, even though all of it happened just by chance," he said.

The play looks at how being treated as a hero might affect one's self-confidence, Nickoloff said.

Producing an original work has helped this year's fall-play experience resonate more with students, McConnell said.

"I think they can relate to it more because it's been written by one of their peers," she said.

"We've been able to give our students a truer, more impactful theatrical experience, because when we sit down and read through a scene, the kids can have a discussion and give their input about things they like and how they think the script might be improved," McConnell said. "I told Samuel that he had to expect that there may be some suggestions on how to improve his play, but if he felt really strongly about something, he should stand up for his own vision."

The suggestions cast members have made helped to improve the play, Nickoloff said.

"It's been a really positive process," he said.

Nickoloff said he couldn't be happier with the cast, which McConnell selected exclusively.

"Some of my best friends are in the show, and it's amazing to see the characters you created come to life on stage," he said.

The cast includes Josh Castle as Norm Allman; Andy Baumgardner as Rick O'Shea, Norm's best friend; and Alaina Murphy in the role of Kay Oss.

"Alaina's one of my best friends, and she really helped me by reading the early drafts and suggesting where some of the weak points were. Ultimately, I had to get it to a point where Miss McConnell would approve it as the fall play."

The production of his play didn't become real until the sets were built and the cast began running lines on stage, Nickoloff said.

"That's when it hit me -- it's my play we're doing," he said. "The actors are doing such an incredible job. To see what they've done with my ideas and characters, it's jaw-dropping."

"The Adventures of Norm Allman" will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, through Saturday, Nov. 17, at Grove City High School. 4665 Hoover Road. Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for students and $5 for seniors and children under 5. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

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