A kiss isn't always just a kiss, especially when it involves high school drama.
The drama is Kamiakin High's play, Mixed Nuts, which opens Jan. 12 in the school's auditorium at 600 N. Arthur St., Kennewick.
The kiss involves Kamiakin junior Dion Warren, who plays Michael, and senior Taryn Meacham, who plays Phil Della, in the comedy by playwrights Simon J. Donoghue and Nancy Manera.
The two have a kissing scene at the end of the play that has at least one of the lead characters a little nervous.
Professional actors might make a kiss look easy, but it's not so easy for novices, especially high school kids who are trying to find a way to make their fictitious romance believable.
"Toward the end of the play, my character becomes a romantic interest of (Dion's character)," Taryn said. "I haven't had much experience with on-stage romance. Dion and I had to develop on-stage chemistry, which has been somewhat difficult."
Dion, on the other hand, had a totally different outlook than his leading lady about the romance.
"Other actors (might have been) uncomfortable with the seduction part of this play, but I am in no way uncomfortable in my role," he said.
Despite the nervous kiss, Mixed Nuts was specifically written for high school students and is a clean play, said co-director Candy Olson.
The story follows writer Michael Caldwell, who is new to the New York theater scene and is struggling with the high rent in the big city. He moves into the Adolph Zuckerman Home for Artists and has to deal with wannabe actors, musicians and directors on a daily basis. All have their own demons to deal with, including Michael.
He meets a character named Marshall (played by Andrew Spurlock), an aspiring actor whose claims to fame are his roles as fruits and vegetables in commercials. Then there's Phil Della Vecchia, a struggling female actor with an overblown ego, and Tanaya Romanov, a Russian ballerina played by Katie Cranston. Through it all, Michael also must deal with this own alter ego he refers to as Mike.
It's truly a house full of mixed nuts.
Michael ends up writing a hilarious newspaper column about all the colorful characters he lives with, which triggers all sorts of chaos among his roomies.
"My character is Italian and incredibly sarcastic and witty," Taryn said. "This has been one of the most enjoyable roles I have played because I'm quite fond of Phil's character.
"Like Phil, I am also very sarcastic and full of quick one-liners, so I can easily relate to her."
Taryn's biggest challenge in the show is she has to change costumes several times.
"Phil wears about 10 different outfits, including a Princess Leia costume, a Chico Marx costume and a Scarlett O'Hara costume," she said. "For most of the costume changes, I only have about a minute to create a completely different look, not to mention the fact I have to change backstage in the dark during very short blackout periods."
One of those misadventures happened when Taryn whipped Dion in the face with her hair while practicing twirling into his arms, then getting her foot stuck in the couch while chasing him during a fight scene.
All in all, both lead actors say they've had fun with their characters.
As Dion put it, "It's been a very fun and promising production," recommend for the whole family.
Showtime is 7 p.m. Jan. 12-13 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 14. Admission is $7 adults and $5 for students and seniors at the door.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org