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Friday, 28 October 2016 09:21

Local teens star in high school productions

Written by  Margaret Plevak
Brianna Havens and Kaleb Staab are caught up in the moment during rehearsal for "Once Upon a Mattress" at Badger High School in Lake Geneva. The play runs Thursday, Nov. 10, through Saturday, Nov. 12. Brianna Havens and Kaleb Staab are caught up in the moment during rehearsal for "Once Upon a Mattress" at Badger High School in Lake Geneva. The play runs Thursday, Nov. 10, through Saturday, Nov. 12. Terry Mayer

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The plays taking center stage on Walworth County high schools next month showcase some wonderful theater, with several presenting familiar stories given a new twist.

Big Foot High School

Audience members will see a familiar fairy tale turned on its head with “The Cinderella Complex” at the newly remodeled auditorium at Big Foot High School, said director Rachel Wenndt.  

“It’s the Cinderella story with the twist being that Cinderella is really not that likeable. She acts like she has to do all this work and make sacrifices, and it’s the stepfamily who’s very nice,” Wenndt said. “I really feel like whether we realize it or not, we probably know somebody like this Cinderella. Audience members can expect to have fun at this play. It’s not going to be boring.”

“The Cinderella Complex” runs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12, at Big Foot High School, 401 Devils Lane, Walworth, 262-275-2116.

Williams Bay High School

“I chose ‘Little Women’ because I wanted the students of Williams Bay High School to have the opportunity to fall in love with the March family,” said director Hope Wittmus. “This musical is based off Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ and allows students to understand life in the late 1800s. It is great to watch the similarities between life in 1865 compared to life in 2016.

“The audience can expect to be taken back to the late 1800s and be enchanted with ballroom dancing, sword fights, big dresses and so much more. The story of Jo March and how she comes to terms with becoming an adult is a fascinating story, and be prepared for heartbreak alongside of lots of laughter. It’s a tremendous show and will draw the audience in from the overture to the curtain call.”

Wittmus said among her personal favorite musical numbers are “Five Forever,” which “empowers the siblings to accept others into their tight-knit family,” and “The Weekly Volcano Press,” wherein students act out Jo March’s stories for the audience.

“I could go on for hours about how great my cast is this year, from my storybook trolls to my leading men and women,” she said, adding Williams Bay senior Rachel Myers, who plays Jo, is both an extraordinary vocalist and actress, and Gina Digieso, who plays Marmee, or Mrs. March, gives a warm and heartfelt performance.

“This is my second high school show I have directed here at Williams Bay and I am always amazed with how dedicated and great the students involved are,” Wittmus said. “Usually directors get tired of the music that the students rehearse day after day, and at this point last year if I never heard ‘Be Our Guest’ (from ‘Beauty and the Beast’) again my life would be complete. This year is the opposite; I am not even close to being tired of it. I am consistently finding new things in each piece for students to connect to and make it more realistic for the audience.”

“Little Women” plays at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, at Williams Bay High School, 500 W. Geneva St., Williams Bay, 262-245-6224.

Faith Christian School

Faith Christian School high school students also are staging “Little Women,” but director Linda Curry said it’s not a competition. The versions differ, so audiences who attend both schools’ plays will get very different shows, she said.

Productions will differ, too, with Faith Christian offering a theater in the round, and many of the numbers sung a capella “so the music isn’t overshadowing the girls’ voices,” Curry said.

“We have quite a number of very good female singers,” Curry said.

“Little Women” runs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Faith Christian School, W5525 Wisconsin Highway 67, Williams Bay, 262-245-9404, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Elkhorn Area High School

Elkhorn Area High School will be performing “Harvey.” Mary Chase’s three-act comedy about a man and his friend -- a 6-foot-tall rabbit -- was also a classic 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart.

 “The show is highly entertaining --funny with a sweet message at the closure,” said Lisa Dettman-Webb, Elkhorn’s director. “While the show is dated in its comedic appeal, it still is relevant today. It features the choices of various characters to ‘see the impossible’ and to choose to be comfortable stepping out of the norm in order to really enjoy life’s small, daily miracles.”

“Harvey” runs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5, in the auditorium at Elkhorn Area High School, 482 E. Geneva St., Elkhorn. Tickets are on sale from cast members and in the main office, 262-723-4920.

Badger High School

“Once Upon a Mattress,” loosely based on another fairy tale about a princess and a pea, will be brought to the stage by the Badger High School Performing Arts organization.

In the play, a queen attempts to keep her son single by setting an impossibly high bar for any would-be princesses, but with help from two of the kingdom’s members-turned-matchmakers, an amazing princess steps in.

Badger’s stage director, Andy Stoltenberg, said more than 100 students make up the cast, crew and orchestra pit.

“Once Upon a Mattress” runs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, and Friday, Nov. 11, and at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Badger High School, 220 E. South St., Lake Geneva, 262-348-2000. Tickets are available online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/once-upon-a-mattress-tickets-28163800686.

Whitewater High School

What can audiences expect to see in Whitewater High School Players’ production of “Big Fish”?

“Giants, mermaids, witches and a whole lot of larger-than-life characters,” said director Jim McCulloch. “There is lots of fantasy to the story, and some poignancy, but it’s grounded in heartfelt emotions. Its message is to dream bigger.”

“Big Fish” got its start as a novel by Daniel Wallace about a man facing his father’s death while trying to sift the fiction from fact in his father’s life. The book became the 2003 film starring Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor and eventually evolved into a Broadway musical.

Whitewater’s version will include great musical elements, with songs like “Be the Hero” and “Stranger,” and a hambone dance routine, McCulloch said. He also credited a great cast, including Mitchell Dalzin, Henry Bresser and Lauren Harkness.

“Big Fish” runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, through Saturday, Nov. 19, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Whitewater High School auditorium, 534 S. Elizabeth St., Whitewater, 262-472-8600.

East Troy High School

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” which will be staged at East Troy High School, is a parody of an American musical comedy of the 1920s, but director Deb Williamson said audiences will find its message timeless.

“The storyline involving a play within a play is a great vehicle to connect current commentary and comedy with that of the 1920s,” Williamson said. “The characters are larger than life and the music is entertaining.

“The character of the ‘Man in Chair’ narrates the production and talks about how modern culture connects and conflicts with the culture of the 1920s. He points out how he uses musical theater as a way to escape the harsh realities of the world around him. The musical also makes it very clear that even though we think we have progressed as a society, we continue to stereotype people and make judgments about situations around us.”

Williamson had heard about “The Drowsy Chaperone” for years from friends, including the school’s musical directors, Riley Roberson and Aimee Swanson. When she saw an East Troy alumnus perform in a University of Wisconsin-Platteville production of the play last year, she knew it would be a good fit.

A renovated performance space at the school features many improvements, including a new state-of-the-art light board and sound equipment, Williamson noted.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at East Troy High School, 3128 Graydon Ave., East Troy, 262-642-6760.

Delavan-Darien High School

Delavan-Darien High School is presenting something different this year, said director Nicholas Marsh: three one-act plays.

The first is “The Internet is a distrac .... Oh look a kitten!”

“This is a play about a young girl who is supposed to be writing an essay about ‘The Great Gatsby’ but keeps getting distracted by the internet and social media,” Marsh said.

Then there’s “Harry’s Hotter at Twilight,” a parody of different pop cultural books and movies, including but not limited to, “Harry Potter” and “Twilight.”

And there’s “Game of Tiaras,” which Marsh said is based on the highly popular “Game of Thrones” but featuring Disney princess characters.

“I picked these particular plays because they are fun, lighthearted and I felt that my cast members would have fun performing them,” Marsh said. “The audience should expect a great deal of laughs and a good time.”  

The three, one-act plays will run at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Delavan-Darien High School, 150 Cummings St., Delavan, 262-728-2642.

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