Dakota Word (standing) played Tevya in Niles High School's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" last winter. The NHS senior will be directing the Four Flags Players' production of "Harvey" this summer. (File photo)
Dakota Word (standing) played Tevya in Niles High School's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" last winter. The NHS senior will be directing the Four Flags Players' production of "Harvey" this summer. (File photo)

Archived Story

Niles High School senior to direct Four Flags Players production

Published 11:18pm Wednesday, May 12, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

When Dakota Word was convinced by a friend to try out for a play for the Niles High School Drama Club his freshman year, he had no idea the ride it would take him on for the coming four years.

The shy, unassuming freshman is now a confident and articulate senior who has been in more than 30 productions in the Niles community through both the high school drama club and the Four Flags players.

Word has come so far in his four-year drama career that he will be directing the Four Flags Players’ production of “Harvey” this summer. Auditions for the play will take place Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Niles.

Katherine Heide, the director of the NHS drama club, said his transformation has been incredible.

“When he first came to drama club, he was a very quiet, shy, reclusive person,” she said. “It took him a while to feel comfortable.”

But she could see his potential almost immediately.

“The first thing I saw that made me think he had a gift was the fact he could not only memorize his lines but everybody else’s in the play within a week,” she said.

Heide knows just exactly how much he has grown. Word moved in with Heide and her husband in 2007 after his family moved to Ohio.

“I had friends, I had drama club, I had a life here, and Kathy took me in,” Word said. “And in a lot of ways she’s been like a mother. She’s been a mother, a friend, an adviser.
“And a homework Nazi,” Heide added with a laugh.

Martha Branson-Banks, secretary of the Four Flags Players, said Word has “blossomed” as an actor under Heide’s care.

Word was cast as the lead role of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” this year’s NHS musical. He also has had prominent roles in “Jekyll and Hyde The Musical” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the high school and in “God Committee” and the “It’s a Wonderful Life” radio production for Four Flags Players.

Word will attend Western Michigan University in the fall and plans to get involved in community theater productions in hopes of being accepted into the drama program.
But first he will play the role of director for the first time this summer for the production “Harvey,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy about a man and his invisible friend, a giant rabbit named Harvey.

“With directing, you have to worry about the entire scope of things,” Word said. “It will be a challenge, but I’m excited for it.”

But it’s a challenge that will be met appropriately with Heide by his side as assistant director.

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