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Wheeler headlines NETC production Booker T. At the Door

Diego Wheeler

Northeastern Technical College's atrium at its Cheraw campus isn't quite the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta in 1895, but Diego Wheeler made it work delivering Booker T. Washington's famous Atlanta Exposition Address.

Wheeler, 19, is a member of the NETC Theatre Club took the role as part of the college's three-year retrospective of Booker T. Washington – the Atlanta Exposition Address. One of the challenges the young actor has when taking the role of a historical figure is working out how the person spoke – it can be quite difficult in an era without recordings.

"I've always been interested in acting," Wheeler said. "I want people to be able to feel what the character I am playing feels."

Wheeler graduated from Lake View High in the Class of 2023. He found his way to Northeastern Technical College in 2021 as many high school students do: through his high school's dual enrollment program. He took Lisa Morman-Patterson's theater class, which led to discovering NETC's Theatre Club.

Wheeler is enthusiastic and brings energy to his performances, said NETC Theatre Club Director Lisa Morman-Patterson.

"Just talking to Diego, you know has a love for the theatre," she said.

Wheeler took first place in the 2023 South Carolina Speech and Theater Competition for Poetry Interpretation facing off against numerous South Carolina college and university students. Wheeler has starred as Dr. Watson in the NETC Theatre Club production of "The Hounds of Bakersville." During the fall 2023 semester, Wheeler played the role of Bob Cratchit in NETC Theatre Club's production of "A Christmas Carol" which was brought to Charlotte, North Carolina at the Blumenthal Arts Center.

"Being on stage can be nerve-wracking," Wheeler said. "I have to say to myself, 'I'm only going to see the audience once.'"

Wheeler will reprise his role as Washington for a one-act production of "Booker T. At The Door" scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Cheraw Campus 200 Building.

Most of the Theatre Club members are dual enrollment students who are eager to be a part of stage productions, said Director Lisa Morman-Patterson.

Productions start as an online meeting, to in person, and to rehearsals with actors and productions juggling school, work, and family obligations to make lines on a page become reality.

"We practice in Cheraw, Bennettsville, and Dillon, and we meet at a church in Rockingham that has the space and allows us to rehearse," she said.

Theatre is work, but with Wheeler and company, it doesn't feel like it.

WHAT: Booker T. At the Door, A One Act Play

WHEN: 7 p.m. Feb. 27

WHERE: NETC Cheraw Campus, Building 200, 1201 Chesterfield Hwy, Cheraw

Admission is $2 per person to support the Theatre Club. Directed by Lisa Morman-Patterson, the production stars Brian Forte as Booker T. Washington and Dennis Rowe as President Theodore Roosevelt. The production also stars Cassidy Jordan, Camyiah Drake, Diego Wheeler, Hannah McLeod, Rachel Townsend, Princess Malachi, Sa'Daisha Brand, Jordan Gordon, Raegan Ford, Gabrielle Davis, Kailynn Dubose, and Yasmine Garcia.

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  • Kayla Gibson, Dual Credit Student:

    Taking classes at Northeastern Technical College while in high school has helped prepare me for the College of Charleston by earning credits that I will need for my major. I will be entering the College of... Read More about Kayla

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    I received individualized attention from my instructors at Northeastern Technical College when I was going through the business program. NETC's faculty and staff members are very friendly and accommodating, and they really care about their students.... Read More about Cynthia

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    Going to Northeastern Technical College allowed me to work a full-time job, be at home with my child and live in my community. At NETC, you are more than just a number in a classroom. The... Read More about Anissa

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    Going to NETC, which is exactly 17 miles from my home, was convenient. I could live at home and go to school, which was a lot more affordable for me than going off to college elsewhere.... Read More about Jonathan

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    Northeastern Technical College was my pathway to a better life. NETC was directly involved in getting me where I am today and having the job that I am so passionate about.... Read More about Santrice

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    If you live in Chesterfield, Marlboro or Dillon counties and you're having a hard time finding work, there's no reason not to start you­r education at Northeastern Technical College.... Read More about Chad

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    I am thankful for the opportunity I had to take dual credit classes at NETC. Not only did they help me prepare for college level course work and scheduling, the college credits I earned at NETC... Read More about Caroline

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    I knew I wanted to study law, and Northeastern Technical College offered the pathway to becoming a legal office assistant. The smaller classes and the support services offered by NETC really met my needs and allowed... Read More about Emily

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