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Friday, 04 November 2016 12:38

Janesville-area students star in fall plays

Written by  Dennis Hines
Lead characters played by, from left, Riley Pankhurst, Alexyn Cervantes, Hunter Kedrowski and Addison Schuh link arms during a song at a rehearsal of Parker High School's production of "Mary Poppins." The show runs Nov. 11 through Nov. 13 and Nov. 18 through Nov. 20 in the school auditorium.nd " Lead characters played by, from left, Riley Pankhurst, Alexyn Cervantes, Hunter Kedrowski and Addison Schuh link arms during a song at a rehearsal of Parker High School's production of "Mary Poppins." The show runs Nov. 11 through Nov. 13 and Nov. 18 through Nov. 20 in the school auditorium.nd " Anthony Wahl/Gazettextra.com

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Participating in a school play or musical gives students an opportunity to showcase their talents, develop valuable life skills and escape reality for a while.

This weekend and the next several weekends are full of high school productions. Here’s what that talented teens in your neighborhood have in store:

Parker High School

Parker High School will present “Mary Poppins” at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 11, Nov. 12, Nov. 18 and Nov. 19, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 13 and Nov. 20, at the high school.

Director Jan Knutson said the music is closely based on the well-known classic, but audience members will see and hear some things that aren’t included in the original production.

“We’ve added some songs and there’s an extended focus on the Banks family,” Knutson said. “With the movie ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ there’s more of an interest in Mr. Banks. So, the thought process of the father is more brought out in the show, but there’s still all the beloved characters and the great songs.”

The characters and the catchy tunes are what makes “Mary Poppins” such an enjoyable story, Knutson said. The play is suitable for all ages.

 “I think the audience is going to love this production. There’s a number of great tunes. The costumes are colorful and the set is awesome ... I think they’re going to leave humming a lot of the songs,” she said. “We are going to have Mary Poppins and Burt flying. It’s a magical show. I’m excited about it. I’ve been wanting to do this show for years.”

“Mary Poppins” includes a cast of about 46 students, and about a dozen students are involved with the technical crew. Students have been rehearsing the play since late September.

“The students have been awesome,” Knutson said. “They have a passion and a love for the songs and the acting and just being together.”

Being involved with theater allows students to work as a team, she said.

“It helps them develop confidence. They learn how to be a part of a group. They learn how to project themselves onstage,” Knutson said. “They have a great deal of pride in the production. They have put so much time into it.”

Knutson said she has noticed that more students have been interested in  theater the past few years.

“At Parker, there seems to be a lot of students interested in it,” Knutson said. “That’s why we do two shows a year at Parker.”

The cost to attend “Mary Poppins” is $12 on Nov. 11 and $15 for the rest of the performances. Tickets can be purchased at Knapton Musik Knotes, Voigt Music Center, the Parker High School office, at the door or by calling 608-743-5591.

Craig High School

Craig’s production of “Into the Woods” runs through this weekend, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, in the auditorium at Craig.

The show features a cast of 32 actors and a 15-piece orchestra. Adam Miller, music director, said the production is closely based on the original story.

“It’s the original script with the original music,” Miller said. “We’re doing a little bit more of a different take on it to allow the students to become more engaged with the acting. It allows the students to do more storytelling ... “

The students have been working on the musical since early September and Miller said he is pleased with the hard work that the students have put into the production.

“This is not an easy show. It’s demanding, but they’re pulling it off well,” Miller said. “I’ve seen the growth in these students. I knew they had it in them, but they’ve even surprised me.”

Miller is anxious for others to enjoy the talents of the Craig students.

“Sometimes high school kids get a bad rap, but I believe high school kids can do some wonderful things,” he said. “I just want the audience to leave realizing the wonderful work that the high schoolers have done.”

Being involved with a theater production offers many benefits to the students, Miller said.

“They work together as a team. They learn how to complement each other,” Miller said. “It takes a lot of dedication and energy. All of their hard work is reflected in the show.”

Miller said there has been a strong interest in theater at Craig High School for several years.

“About 60 students auditioned (for ‘Into the Woods’), and we have 32 in the cast, so we could’ve had a lot more,” he said.

The cost to attend “Into the Woods” is $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased at the Craig High School main office or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Milton High School

Milton High School students are presenting “Bye, Bye Birdie” this weekend at the school auditorium.

Performances continue at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.

For more information, go online to milton.k12.wi.us.

Parkview High School

“The King and I” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at Parkview Elementary School, 106 W. Church St. in Orfordville.

The production is based on the original story.

“It’s a timeless classic,” said director Laura Schuler. “The Parkview School District, for how small it is, has a lot of talented students.”

About 20 students are involved with the cast. Schuler said the main characters are portrayed by Parkview High School students, but the king’s children are portrayed by elementary school students. The students have been working on the play since late September.

“It’s been great. The students have been working hard,” Schuler said. “The little kids from the elementary school are just having a blast with it.”

Being involved in a theater production can be a learning experience for the students, she said.

“Any time students are involved with a musical or the arts it teaches them something,” Schuler said. “They learn teamwork, leadership skills and decision-making skills, the same skills they would learn if they were involved with a sport.

“They also learn about history, culture and literature when they are involved with a production.”

More Parkview students have become involved with theater over the years, Schuler said.

“I think more students have become interested in it,” she said. “I think the number of kids that get involved depends on the show.”

The cost to attend “The King and I” is $10 on Nov. 11 and $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13. Tickets can be purchased at the Parkview Elementary School office and at the door.

“It’s going to be held at the elementary school because that’s where the stage is,” Schuler said.

Edgerton High School

Edgerton students will present Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Edgerton Performing Arts Center, 200 Elm High Drive.

The play is based on the classic tale with some added twists.

“It’s loosely based on the fairytale classic. There’s the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, which are classics,” said Jessica Eichstedt, director. “The book we’re using is newer. It’s not set in the modern times, but there are some twists and surprises. But there’s still the evil stepmother and the evil stepsisters.”

Cinderella is portrayed as a more heroic character in this version, Eichstedt said.

“There’s more added to the relationship between Cinderella and the prince,” she said. “It’s just not him saving her, but she saves him, as well. She helps him become a better leader, so it’s a more balanced relationship.”

Eichstedt said she feels audience members will enjoy some of the changes to the story, as well as the music and the timeless tale.

“The Rodgers and Hammerstein songs don’t disappoint. There’s a lot of wonderful transitions, from Cinderella being in rags to attending the grand ball,” Eichstedt said. “I think they’re going to enjoy the changes to the script. Cinderella is seen more as a heroine. I think parents are going to enjoy bringing their children.”

Auditions for “Cinderella” were held in the spring with rehearsals beginning in late August. Eichstedt said some of the older students have been mentoring the younger students.

“(We were) working on it even before the school year started,” Eichstedt said. “It’s been marvelous. The cast has been very supportive of each other. They’re like family. There’s students who have been in productions before, so some of the more experienced students have been supportive of the newer students, and the newer students have brought some excitement and energy to the show.”

Being involved with theater gives the students an opportunity to escape from their everyday lives.

“At the beginning of rehearsals, we make it a point to give the students a chance to get rid of some of the stresses of the day,” Eichstedt said. “They can forget about their stress for the next two or three hours. They can express themselves through a different character. It helps build confidence.

“It helps the students come out of their shell, just not as a different character, but as themselves. Theater is one of the most welcoming atmospheres.”

The cost to attend “Cinderella” is $8 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

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