Alannah Ferguson, 17, of North Port

A poster for Alannah Ferguson, 17, of North Port was on display Sunday during a North Port High School performance of “Once Upon a Mattress.” Ferguson was heavily involved in the stage work of the play. The Sunday performance was dedicated to her — a week after she died in a car crash.

NORTH PORT — More than 300 audience members gazed at the cast of “Once Upon a Mattress” as they pointed up toward the sky during curtain call and said their former stage manager’s name in unison.

The North Port High School students dedicated their final performance to Alannah Ferguson, a 17-year-old junior, who was killed April 6 in an alleged DUI crash in rural North Port.

Dena Henderson, the school’s theater teacher, said there were many hugs given out backstage at the North Port Performing Arts Center, as students continued on with the show in honor of their friend.

“There’s always a little lump in your heart going through this kind of experience, but in the long run I’m glad we went on,” Henderson said. “I think it’s important for the kids to have closure and they worked hard to get to the point of doing their show, so it was important to let them finish that process.”

“I think it would have made it more painful for them to look back and think about this show had we not gone ahead and done it another time for their family and friends,” she added.

As audience members poured out of the theater to meet the cast outside, Henderson teared up remembering Ferguson.

“She was sweet and she was feisty and she was loving,” Henderson said. “She was a fierce defender of anyone and would be there for anyone. She was a great listener and the world lost someone special. But I know that more than anything, she would have been angry at us if we didn’t do the show. This is what she would have wanted.”

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