High schools to present 12 shows in four days
The stage is set for a weekend packed with comedy, singing, and dancing as all five high schools in Marion County prepare for plays, including four musicals.
The busy weekend for theater is because of Kansas State High School Activities Association’s mandatory buffer week between football and basketball seasons.
Rehearsals for the musicals at Goessel, Hillsboro, Marion, and Peabody-Burns high schools began in September. Rehearsals for the play at Centre High School began Oct. 1.
Finding time to rehearse has been a challenge for all of the productions.
“In a small school, kids are involved in everything,” said Janet Killough, Marion High School’s director of “Grease.”
Centre High School
Directors Jennifer Montgomery, Lynley Remy, and Sharon Matz have a cast of 18 students in the comedy “Chateau La Roach.”
The play is about the hijinks of guests and staff at a country hotel with a sudden roach problem.
Senior Savik Howard, playing hotel owner Francois, has experience from two previous plays.
“I’d say memorizing the lines is the hardest part of the play,” Howard said.
With more than a quarter of the school’s 68 students in the play, cast members have done their part with duties normally reserved for a dedicated crew, Remy said.
“Having three directors has been amazing,” Montgomery said.
Goessel High School
Greg Bontrager is directing Goessel High School’s production of “Oklahoma!” The musical was chosen because it was a good fit for the students, he said.
There are 68 students involved in the show, including cast, crew, and chorus.
“Our high school choir is all involved,” Bontrager said.
Senior Amy Brubaker, playing Laurey Williams, is in her sixth play.
“I love getting the chance to act and sing and be a person other than myself,” she said.
Senior Kristin Unruh has been in the school’s productions before, but this year she tried something different. She is working behind the scenes as the stage manager.
“I still feel like I have a critical role,” Unruh said. “I have been able to look at the productions in a whole new light. There is so much behind-the-scenes work that goes on that no one ever knows about — all the phone calls for props, costumes, hairstylists, etcetera.”
Unruh plans to stay involved with theater even after graduation.
“When I visit colleges, I always make sure to meet with their theater directors,” she said.
Hillsboro High School
Director Lynn Just has been working with a cast and crew of 45 students on “Annie Get Your Gun” with the assistance of Terry Bebermeyer.
The musical is a story about sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her relationship with Frank Butler, another performer in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. The music, composed by Irving Berlin, includes familiar songs like “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Anything You Can Do.”
There were several reasons for choosing this musical in particular.
“I felt like it could be staged in a short time, it fit the students I expected to get involved, and it requires little set,” Just said.
Rehearsals began right after Labor Day, but the students were unable to practice onstage until Oct. 8, Just said.
Senior Jessica Elliot, playing Annie Oakley, said her favorite songs in the musical are “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” and “An Old-Fashioned Wedding.”
Marion High School
Around 50 students are in the cast, crew, and chorus of “Grease,” directed by Killough. The musical will be the first in the USD 408 Performing Arts Center.
Junior Brady Hudson, playing Danny Zuko, said he was happy with the choice of the musical.
“It relates to us because the characters are teenagers,” Hudson said.
Hudson said the biggest challenge of musical and nonmusical plays is the same.
“I think the hardest thing in both is being a leader and stepping up and saying, ‘We need to get things done,’” Hudson said.
For the second consecutive year, Emporia State University theater student Emily Young is working as the choreographer for the musical. She also has done choreography for Butler Community College.
She got involved with “Beauty and the Beast” in 2007 after a mutual friend gave her name to Killough.
“I was excited to do it again, Young said. “This musical has a lot of energy. Just tons of it.”
“Anyone who comes will have just a fabulous time,” Killough said.
Peabody-Burns High School
Kathy Ensey is directing the 47 students in the cast and crew of “Bye Bye Birdie” after a year without a play.
The play follows teen idol Conrad Birdie, played by Chris Dunfield, and his manager, Albert Peterson, after Birdie is drafted into the Army, and Peterson’s relationship with girlfriend, Rose Alvarez, played by Traylee Woodruff, is strained to the breaking point.
Competing with other activities for rehearsal time has been the chief obstacle of the musical.
“We haven’t had all of the students together, ever, because of sports,” Ensey said.
Woodruff, playing Alvarez, is confident the musical will be ready by show time.
“It’s cool how everybody comes together,” Woodruff said.
Show times and tickets
- Centre High School presents “Chateau La Roach,” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the CHS gym. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students, and children 5 and under get in free, with discounts for early purchases. Tickets are available at the CHS office or from any cast member.
- Goessel High School presents “Oklahoma!” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students, and are available at the high school office.
- Hillsboro High School presents “Annie Get Your Gun,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the HHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 and are available at the high school office.
- Marion High School presents “Grease,” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at USD 408 Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $3, $2 for children 12 and under, and are available at County Seat.
- Peabody-Burns High School presents “Bye Bye Birdie,” 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in PBHS Brown Auditorium. Tickets are available from any student involved in the musical and at the PBHS office. Tickets are $3 in advance or $5 at the door.