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Anderson High School’s SHE KILLS MONSTERS Celebrates Geek Culture

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The students of Anderson Theatre have steeped themselves in 90’s rock music, daring stage combat, and medieval fantasy as they prepare for their production of Qui Nguyen’s SHE KILLS MONSTERS on February 8th through 10th. The comedic play explores the world of role-playing games when the lead character, Agnes, learns to play Dungeons & Dragons in an attempt to understand her deceased sister, Tilly.

“Through the game, my character learns not only about her sister, but also about bullying, creativity, and the struggle many people face to be accepted.” says Senior Hailey Mauk, who plays Agnes. “In reality, she is afraid to be different and have fun, but in the fantasy world she can be whoever she wants. And there’s a lot of humor!”

The play, which is best suited to adults and children age 12 and up, is directed by Theatre Teacher Hannah Linser-Wilder who is a D&D player and admitted geek herself. “Everyone is geeky or nerdy in some sense,” she says, “Meaning that they have something they are deeply passionate about, whether that be games or football or cooking. But then Society decides that certain things are socially acceptable to be obsessed with, and others are not.”  The beauty of this play, says Linser-Wilder, is that it reveals “how important passion is. The most important thing is to be passionate, and be proud of your passion. No one should be judged for the things, or people, they love.”

SHE KILLS MONSTERS really is for everybody,” says Junior Caitlin Walsh, who plays Kaliope, an elven adventurer who fights alongside Anges. “For the D&D geeks, there are little nuances in the script and the design that true fans will understand. For everyone else, there are lovable characters and comedic romps intertwined with serious, real-world topics. It’s hard not to fall in love.”

Griffin Maraan plays Chuck, the DM who teaches Agnes the game, and says, “Everyone should come see it, because it is a hugely funny show, so fun to watch. The music is great. My favorite parts are when we do the on-stage battles.”

Walsh agrees. “My favorite has to be the final battle,” she says. “It’s technically challenging, and it engages practically the entire cast. It’s the ultimate hero’s battle truly come to life on stage.”

The play also examines the personal secrets that sometimes even sisters cannot share. “LGBT issues have advanced so far now from the way they were in the 1990’s,” says Linser-Wilder, “But there is still a long way to go. This play helps remind us of both where we were, and what we still struggle with.”

“I hope people will leave with a different perspective of the world and the people around them,” says Mauk, “I hope this show helps them be more accepting toward others.”

Walsh adds, “At the end of the day, SHE KILLS MONSTERS is a compelling play that will make you laugh until you hurt, then inspire tears you didn’t know you had. The audience should just have fun, because, to quote the show, ‘That’s the point in all this.’”

Tickets for SHE KILLS MONSTERS at Anderson High School are $10, and can be purchased at the door or at www.ShowTix4U.com. Visit www.AndersonTheatre.com for more information.

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Anderson Theatre Presents the Cult Musical BAT BOY

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The cast of Anderson Theatre’s BAT BOY the Musical includes Junior Sophia Lee as Meredith Parker, Junior Paige Resor as her daughter Shelley, Freshman Nick Gundrum as Bat Boy, and Junior Ian Baker as Dr. Parker. Photo by Jennifer Alessandrini.

This November, the students of Anderson High School are exploring the dark side of comedy with “Bat Boy, the Musical.” This Off-Broadway hit was inspired by a series of infamous tabloid stories about a half boy-half bat creature discovered in a cave near a small town in West Virginia. The musical tells the story of his discovery and his effect on the town.

“‘Bat Boy’ was written in the 90’s, when dark humor was hugely popular,” explains Director Hannah Linser-Wilder. “It invites the audience laugh about crazy tabloid stories,   low-budget 40’s horror movies, angst-filled soap operas, but then it also tells a touching and personal story about a family’s destruction. In that way it is like a Greek tragedy. It is one of my favorite shows ever. And these kids are doing some amazing work with it.”

Freshman Stella Scheidler says “This story is very over the top, super dramatic, funny, campy, and super tragic at the same time.” Scheidler plays Sheriff Reynolds, whom she says is comically unwilling to do her job. “Basically, she dumps all of her problems off on everyone else.”

“I see it as sort of a soap opera,” says Junior Elizabeth Thorman, “some of it is so silly. But the humor is also subtle.” As Props Designer, she has had some fun challenges. “Just be ready,” she says, “There’s gonna be some blood. I’m so excited for the bunny and the cow head. I hope they are impressive as I want them to be!” The Directors point to this, and to other elements of the story, to remind parents that the show will be best suited to children aged 12 and up.

Make-up Designer and Sophomore Emma Barnhart is also excited about her designs for the show. “The mom, Meredith, is more of a classic 50’s house wife, with red lips and winged eyeliner. Her daughter Shelley has more eyeshadow to show that she is rebellious.”

The make-up design for Bat Boy himself is a nod to classic horror films, and Director and Costume Consultant Emily Weddle knew his look would be crucial. “The store-bought fangs were difficult to work with,” Weddle says, “But then the wonderful people at Thacker Orthodontics created custom fangs for us. They’re moulded to fit Nick Gundrum, who plays Bat Boy, perfectly, and work like a charm. They look so real!” Dr. Thacker and his team have been long time supporters of Anderson Theatre. “His whole office is fantastic,” says Weddle.

The story’s villain, Dr. Thomas Parker, is played by Junior Ian Baker as what he calls “a classic Jealous Husband. If it will make his wife love him in the end, then murdering people and blaming the Bat Boy is fine with him.”

Many of the cast are eager for audiences to experience the music of the show. Baker says, “I am most excited for ‘Comfort and Joy.’ Parker has lost it, and he launches his plan to ‘get rid of the boy.’ At the same time, his family makes plans to attend a town social event, all the townspeople prepare, and Bat Boy struggles with his hunger for blood and self-control. The interweaving vocal parts and passion throughout the song make it one of the highlights of the show.”

“This show is a must see!” insists Scheidler. “It will make you feel all the feels. We’ve all worked so hard to make it amazing. I hope that everyone has a great time and appreciates the work of art that is Bat Boy!”

Performances of Anderson Theatre’s “Bat Boy, the Musical” will be November 16  and 17 at 7:00 pm and November 18 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.ShowTix4U.com or at the door.

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INTO THE WOODS at Anderson Theatre a Modernized Fairy Tale

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Actors in Anderson Theatre’s INTO THE WOODS include Junior Alexis Zoglio as Little Red Ridinghood, Senior Micah Queen as the Wolf, Junior Adam Radcliffe as the Baker, Senior Delaney O’Toole as the Baker’s Wife, Junior Mackenzie Greulach as Cinderella, seated), Senior Audrey Button as the Witch and Sophomore Nate Goodlett as Jack. Performances are May 4 and 5 at 7:00 pm and May 6 at 2:00 pm at Anderson High School. Photo by Jennifer Alessandrini.

On May 4, 5, and 6, Anderson High School students will present their 55th Spring Musical, INTO THE WOODS by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Tickets are $10 and purchase information can be found on their website, www.AndersonTheatre.com.

INTO THE WOODS won the Tony Award in 1987 for Best Musical, and while it centers around familiar fairy tale characters like Cinderella and Little Red Ridinghood, their stories go beyond the traditional “happily ever after.”

“These characters are more human,” explains Director Chad Weddle. “Every one of us has flaws, and these characters do, too. We all make mistakes; we all want things—sometimes desperately—that are not good for us.”

Junior Mackenzie Greulach, who plays Cinderella, describes her character as “a young girl who struggles with making choices about what she wants in her life.” The story feels modern to Mackenzie because, she says, “While it does show the original fairy tale characters that everyone knows, it also explores the more realistic side of life.”

“A single mom, in poverty, trying to manage her dreamer of a son,” is how Junior Jadyn Riggs describer her character, Jack’s Mother. “We live a mess of a home, with no adult male figure. I am forced to take care of everything, provide everything.” The character is is far from the perfect mother, according to Jadyn, although she loves her son. “Unlike other characters, I don’t express my love as well as I should, because it comes from a deeper place of fear.”

“Love is a huge part of this show,” says Junior Adam Radcliffe, who plays the Baker. “Every character loves something or someone, and the only catch is, who and why. As the Baker, I get to move through scenes where my character experiences love for his wife, and his baby. He is a loving husband who faces challenges he never thought he would have to face.”

Weddle hopes audiences will recognize themselves in these characters. “The show is about all the different kinds of love we experience: romantic love, married love, parental love, but also selfish and jealous love. INTO THE WOODS uses fairy tales to explore what happens when we get exactly what we thought we wanted.” He points out that “The phrase ‘I wish’ is the most crucial line in the show. We have to think about how hard we are willing to work for what we want, and whether it is worthy. Is it selfish? Does it build our community, or destroy it?”

Senior Katie Hehn plays Cinderella’s Stepmother, who she says “is very evil and selfish! She experiences more emotions in this show than in the traditional fairy tale, and is thrown into scenes, like the one involving the Giant, which she is definitely not equipped to handle.” Hehn is facing new experiences along with her character; known for her technical leadership among the crew, this is her first on-stage role in two years. The preparation is challenging, but clearly she enjoys it. “If I had one wish, I would wish for endless opportunities to try new things!”

“With every show, I always wish that our audience has an experience that will change their life.” says Riggs. “I am excited about it all, and only wish that the story we put on stage touches someone in the audience.”

Radcliffe agrees. “People should come see this show because it is awesome. It incorporates so many different things for all different ages. And the music is Sondheim, so who would want to miss it?”

 

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Anderson Theatre’s JANE EYRE Reflects Modern Issues

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Twenty Five AHS students make up the cast of Anderson Theatre’s winter play, JANE EYRE, including Junior Hailey Mauk as Jane Eyre, Junior Adam Radcliffe as Mr. Rochester, and Senior Megan Goodlett as Bertha. Photo taken at the Willadel Mansion in Judson Village by Jennifer Alessandrini.

“We always want our shows to be relevant to the students lives,” says Anderson Theatre Director Hannah Linser-Wilder, “and I chose ‘Jane Eyre’ because it speaks to issues of female empowerment that we are still dealing with today.” Anderson Theatre’s Winter Play, “Jane Eyre,” opens on February 23 and runs through the 25th. Incorporating dance and shadow-box lighting techniques, it ties the original story to the current day.

The play was adapted from the classic Charlotte Brontë novel by playwright Polly Teal. Ms. Linser-Wilder says, “I searched a long time for the right adaptation of this story I love. It is too easy to make it just about romance or religion. Teal’s version focuses on what I think is important—the life journey of Jane herself, and the reality of what the world was like before feminism existed.”

“It is very relevant for today,” says Junior Hailey Mauk, who plays Jane. “Women can still struggle to explain how they feel, and be told what they are supposed to feel and when to feel it.”

The character of Bertha, played by Senior Megan Goodlett, is onstage throughout the play, reacting to Jane’s experience through dance. Ms. Mauk explains, “Dance helps the audience to understand what Jane is thinking when she can’t express her own feelings.”

“We are all are aware of the issues in the news,” says Ms. Linser-Wilder, “but to really understand them I think it is important to take a step back and look at where we started.”

Sophomore Caitlin Walsh plays Mrs. Fairfax, who she says, “serves as a way to remind Jane of the patriarchal society she lives in. Where Jane seeks some sort of change, Mrs. Fairfax would rather have things stay the same. I find it interesting how many Mrs. Fairfaxes I see in my own life; a lot of people around me prefer to stay on the fence about current events. While they don’t directly oppose it, they aren’t exactly for it, either.”

In contrast, Sophomore Sarah Amrine says “My character, Mary Rivers, and her sister Diana serve as role models of single but independent women, which was not common in this time period.” She believes this is another way that “this show is still very relevant for audiences in modern times.”

“This show is powerful for everyone,” adds Ms. Walsh. “There’s romance, action, inner turmoil, and so much more than meets the eye. It encourages people to fight for what they believe in. Working on this show has been incredible for me. I’ve had the chance to look at the world from not just my own, new viewpoint, but from those of other actors and their characters alike.”

Performances of “Jane Eyre” are at 7:00 pm on February 23 and 24, and 2:00 pm on February 25. Tickets cost $10 each, and can be purchased online at www.ShowTix4U.com. For more information about the show and the full Anderson Theatre season, visit www.AndersonTheatre.com

 

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Classic Showbiz Musical GYPSY Performed by Anderson High School

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The iconic photo of “Rose Louise and her Hollywood Blondes” recreated by actors from Anderson High School’s GYPSY. Jordan Slemons, Katelyn Peters, Audrey Button, Megan Goodlett, Gretchen Baxte as the Blonde and Natalie Nuzzo as Louise. Photo by Jennifer Alessandrini/Violet Bowe Photography.

Gypsy Rose Lee was one of the most celebrate stage performers of the 1930s and 1940s, and later this month Anderson High School will present the acclaimed Broadway Musical based on her life story: “Gypsy, A Musical Fable.” Performances are April 29 and 30 at 7 pm and May 1 at 2:00 pm, and ticket information can be found at AndersonTheatre.com.

“Audiences can look forward to a lot of great songs, some really cool tap dance, and some amazing singing,” says Senior Isaac Delev, who is one of the show’s Assistant Stage Managers.

Audrey Platt, the show’s Co-Director, agrees. “What is remarkable, though, is that this is a true life story,” she says. “It gives an amazing snapshot of 1920s theatre, and also reveals the very personal story of Louise, the girl who became Gypsy Rose Lee, and her family. The relationship between Mother and daughters is powerful and truly authentic.”

“Louise is such an incredible character,” says Freshman Alexis Zoglio, who plays Baby Louise at the beginning of the show. “We get to watch her grow as a performer and as a person, and understand what leads her to make her huge transformation at the end of the show.”

The head of the family, and the most powerful character in the musical, is Mama Rose, who struggles to win fame for her two daughters, Louise and June, during the final days of vaudeville. Mama Rose has been called the world’s worst stage mom, but Ms. Platt believes she really is a sympathetic character.

“Rose embodies the strength of American optimism and the drive for success that is the quintessential American Dream,” says Ms. Platt. “She never gives up, she believes she can do anything…her tragic flaw is simply that she cannot really focus beyond her own self-interest.”

“Gypsy” explores the life of a historical show-business family, and the cast features a modern one as well. “The fact that six children from the same extended family get to perform together in one show is exciting,” says Jenny Goodlett, whose three children, two nephews, and niece play some of the young children who perform with Louise and June during the show. “Being in the ‘business’ pretty much all my life, I can tell you there are stage moms like Mama Rose,” she says, “But to us it is not about the fame, it is about the experience and the process and the joy it brings to the kids to share their hard work and talent.”

“The thing that makes ‘Gyspy’ special is the light that is shined on imperfection,” says Junior Kristin Amrine, who plays Miss Cratchitt. “Our leading woman in this show, Rose, is far from successful. We see her pain, her dreams, and her attempts at reaching greatness. It is even more miraculous that this is a real story.”

Senior Sally Modzelewski plays Rose, and could not be more thrilled to be a part of this production. “This is absolutely my favorite show ever,” she says. “Rose is one of the most complex roles in all musical theatre history, and the story of ‘Gypsy’ is a story of real people, who experience very real happiness and heartbreak. Everyone in the audience will be able to relate to something, whether it be Rose’s persistence, June’s need for freedom, Louise’s innocence, or Herbie’s love. Filled with comedy, drama, love, and loss, ‘Gypsy’ is a show you won’t want to miss!”

 

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