A weekend of student theatre in Plymouth starts Nov. 4

During the first weekend of November, Plymouth will be abuzz with four fun days of student-generated theatre, food, and entertainment. Due to an extremely busy district calendar, both Plymouth High School and Riverview Middle School have had to schedule their fall productions on the same weekend. As a result, they have created a Discount Theatre Weekend Package so the community can enjoy watching all of these locally directed arts activities featuring the work of over 150 Plymouth students at a great price.

PHS presents The Phantom Tollbooth

First to open on Thursday, Nov. 4, is the PHS production of Norman Juster’s classic children’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, adapted for the stage by playwright Susan Nanus. The show will play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6, and also at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7.

This year PHS’s Saturday evening performance of The Phantom Tollbooth will be signed for the hearing impaired.

In the story of The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo (Adam Hernandez) – a boy who does not “know what to do with himself – not just sometimes, but always” – discovers a magical tollbooth has mysteriously appeared in his bedroom. The directions attached to the tollbooth’s box describe it as “easily assembled at home for use by those who have never traveled in lands beyond.”

Since Milo claims to have nothing else to do, he steps into his toy car and begins a fantastical journey through the Land of Wisdom where he enters Dictionopolis and meets many unusual characters including the Whether Men (Alex Lomibao and Randy Zeinemann) who are not weather men because “after all, it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be.”

Then, with the help of Tock (Jesse Meyer), the Watchdog, whose alarm goes off any time he detects someone wasting time, Milo helps rescue the Princesses Sweet Rhyme (Hannah Scherer) and Pure Reason (Phoebe Sebranek) who have been banished by their feuding brothers King Azaz (Andrew Larson), the king of Dictionopolis and his brother the Mathemagician (Christopher Gideon), the king of the Land of Numbers. The two cannot agree upon which is more important: letters or numbers.

The cast of unusual characters also includes King Azaz’s pompous advisors:

The Duke of Definition (Taylor Radder), The Minister of Meaning (Corbin Dewey), The Earl of Essence (Alex Lomibao), The Count of Connotation (Joe Larson), The Undersecretary of Understanding (Sean Beitler), as well as a grumpy Humbug (Zack Holden), a sassy Spelling Bee (Lauren Schwalenberg), a numerically correct talking Dodecahedron (Charlie Martin), the eccentric Kakafonous A. Dischord, Doctor of Dissonance (Molly Thiesenhusen) who treats those suffering from a severe lack of noise, and a series of eerie demons: The Everpresent Wordsnatcher (Courtney Lonergan), The Terrible Trivium (Corbin Dewey), The Demon of Insincerity (Jacqueline Schaefer), and The Senses Takers (Jourdan Klahn).

Additional cast members include:

Amy Addy, Mikey Ambrowiak, Hannah Anhalt, Kimberly Baus, Neralie Castillo, Austin Ernst, Jessica Falk, Becca Franzen, Ian Gieryn, Cameron Gruenke, Kate Hojnacki, Lauren Jenquin, Janessa Klahn, Mitchell Krahn, Emily Lecher, Jordan Lentz, Danielle Lisowe, Ally MacManus, Chelsea Martin, Lacey Meyer, Taylor Meyer, Keston Murphy, Marissa Murphy, Mary Claire Nicholson, Michelle Odgers, Delany Olson, BriAnna Roehrborn, Sabrina Sanchez, Brittany Schaefer, Kyrstin Schaefer, Cailin Scherer, McKenzie Tischauser, Paige M. Riese, Zone Vang, Emily Wentz, Kouas Xiong, and Julia Zirtzlaff.

Riverview Middle School presents Annie, Jr.

The next part of this arts-filled weekend will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, and again at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, when Riverview Middle School presents a musical production of Annie, Jr. that is based on the Tribune Media Service popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie.” This middle school-level version of this favorite musical features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan.

The show starts with Annie (Jennifer Schwartz and Katie Trakel), a spunky Depression-era orphan, who is determined to find her parents. They abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan (JoAnne Solfest and Shauna Clemens).

In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations, which include her brother Rooster (Ammon Williams and Brady Grapentine) and his girlfriend, Lily (Makayla Kelly and Chloe Fisher) who scheme to try and impersonate Annie’s parents. Annie also befriends President Franklin Roosevelt (Stuart Thiel) and finds a new family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Matt Olig and Carter Kryzyaniak), his personal secretary Grace Farrell (Nicole Phelan and Emily Carbaugh), and a loveable mutt named Sandy (Brianna Phillips).

Its upbeat plot and flamboyant characters have made Annie one of the most beloved musicals in history. Some of the larger parts have been double cast, and the rest of the lively supporting actors include the following students:

Dallys Adams, Rachel Anderson, Cara Bardon, Nichole Bartzen, Nathaniel Benicke, Sophie Bolich, Savannah Brooks, Holly Brunner, Alexis Condy, Katelyn Flanagan, Taylor Gonzalez, Alex Gravett, Meredith Grimes, Rebekah Hankins, Ella Harpstead, David Hassel, Cole Henning, Erica Henschel, Brandon Herrin, Amy Holec, Caitlyn Hugdahl, Alyssa Klemme, Jonell Klopf, Morgan Klumpyan, Julia Krueger, Megan Kultgen, April LaBoy, Hannah Mauk, Megan Meyer, Tiffany Miller, Elizabeth Miske, Abby Nicholson, Julia Novotny, Abby Payne, Brianna Phillips Emily Pitzen, Kelly Pocian, Mary Riley, Allison Schreurs, Kaylie Schelinski, Alycia Shilts, Lauren Splivalo, Kassie Stokdyk, Dena Watson, and Lydia Zipperer. In addition, a very important supporting role will be a pack of stray singing and dancing dogs played by Riverview’s Sixth Grade Chorus members.

Have dinner before the shows at PHS Saturday, Nov. 6

Before the Saturday evening performances of PHS’s The Phantom Tollbooth and Riverview’s Annie, Jr., Plymouth High School’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality class will be preparing and serving a very special meal – A Dictionopolis Banquet – in the PHS cafeteria. Under the direction of PHS Family and Consumer Education teacher, Connie Lund, the students have planned and designed a meal to feature food inspired by The Phantom Tollbooth characters who visit Dictionopolis, a land where words and letters are sold at “The Word Market,” and people “eat their words.” The dinner menu will include Alphabet Soup, Barbeque Pork Sandwiches served on “rigmaroles,” and “just desserts” including Pumpkin Pudding, “synonym buns,” and “half-baked ideas” piped on to Five Layer Bars; and, of course, guests are welcome to season their food with “somersault” to taste.

Members of the class who will be preparing and serving the feast include:

Katie Averill, Courtney Bonnett, Stephanie Feider , Thiela Hefter, Tyler Hunt, Cody Jensen, Victoria Jones, Sloan Pfeifer, Kait Shepard, Travis West, and Davis Wiltzius.

Donation of original music compositions

Of special interest to PHS’s production of The Phantom Tollbooth is the unexpected and generous donation of music composer Tom Graczkowski who is an emerging and award-winning composer from London, Ontario, Canada.

The play’s director, PHS teacher Janet DeJean Newton, recently discovered some of Graczkowski’s recordings on the YouTube website and contacted him to secure permission to use his work as thematic and transition music during the play. During their e-mail communications, Graczkowski was so delighted with her efforts to honestly seek the rights to his music (considering the ongoing problem of music pirating), that he volunteered to compose original material just for PHS’s fall play.

Graczkowski is a graduate from the Music Industry Arts and Digital Applications programs of Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, Canada. He has received several recognitions including the Keyboard Magazine’s “Unsigned Artist of the Month” and the Studio 306 “Outstanding Achievement” Award. He is currently the owner of his own company – The Tdimension – where he is dedicated to providing audio services (original music, sound design and editing) for media including but not limited to TV, commercials, film, animation, Web and video games. PHS is overwhelmed by his generosity and delighted to embark on this new audio project featuring his talents and assistance which are being delivered all with the aid of cyberspace communications.

The production staff

The Phantom Tollbooth is being directed by PHS English, drama, and speech teacher Janet DeJean Newton, assisted by Amy Larson. The PHS fall play student production staff members include Charlie Martin as student assistant director, Emily Schirmer as student choreographer, Mitch Fritz as student theatre manager, and Aubrey Leigh DeJean Newton as student artistic director.

Directors of Riverview’s show include Riverview choral teacher, Eileen Brooks, and Kathy Stoltenberg.

Numerous students have also been helping backstage at both Riverview and PHS to help make the two shows a resounding success for the community.

Weekend of student theatre discount packages

General admission tickets are available to both shows at either the Plymouth High School or Riverview Middle School offices. Tickets to Plymouth High School’s production of The Phantom Tollbooth are $6 each, and tickets to Riverview’s production of Annie, Jr. are $4 each. A $1 per ticket discount is available for those who choose to purchase tickets to both productions.

Tickets to the “Dictionopolis Banquet,” which will be held at the Plymouth High School cafeteria beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, are $10 per person or $9 with the purchase of a ticket to either school’s production.

Dinner and theatre group rates are available for groups of 10 or more, but please call (920) 893-6911, ext. 1530 to make reservations.

All proceeds from ticket and dinner sales go toward funding future fall productions at Riverview Middle School and Plymouth High School.

For more information about PHS’s production of The Phantom Tollbooth, contact Janet DeJean Newton at (920) 893-6911, and for more information about Riverview’s production of Annie, Jr., contact Eileen Brooks at (920) 892-4353.

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