Given the choice, the limelight can have a stronger appeal for high school girls drawn to the stage.
But senior Katie Hershberger, junior Emily Neuberger, junior Jenny Poth, and sophomore Ingrid Lustig chose to point their ambitions in a different direction, behind the scenes, and add director to their theatre resumes.
The four Lake Forest High School students have teamed up to direct “Student Produced One Acts” to be performed at Lake Forest High School on Friday (Jan. 28) and Saturday (Jan. 29). Both performances start at 7:30 p.m.
The foursome were contacted earlier in the year by senior Alyssa Loiacano, the producer of the show.
Hershberger and Neuberger will direct the one-act play, “13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview,” written by Ian McWethy. The comedy takes college recruiting and interviews to a new level featuring a vampire, a magician, a reality TV star, and plenty of laughs.
The cast includes Dana Glynn, Rachael Penn, Kayla Higbee, Andrew Piechota, Hannah Hart, Emily Baumeister, Steven Schur, Carlie Passalino, Jacob Crofts, Michele Becker, Geneva Crofts, Mollie Blahunka, and Mac Myles.
Hershberger saw the play at the Illinois Theater Festival and thought it was perfect for a one-act play. She told Loiacano and Ben Davidson of the school theatre department and they agreed. The girls are excited to watch the audience’s reaction.
“Mac Myles is hysterical in his role as a conniving serial killer,” said Neuberger.
Added Hershberger, “He’s very convincing.”
Poth and Lustig teamed up to direct the one-act play, “Paper or Plastic,” written by Werner Trieschmann. Chosen for its “green” theme (proceeds will benefit initiatives to help the theatre’s environmental initiatives), the play takes on the question of whether paper or plastic is better for the environment, and what it’s like to work as an overqualified grocery clerk with crazy customers and a bad boss.
The cast includes Erica Werner, Kristen Vold, Charlie Allen, Hannah Gersten, Nikki Trutter, Jenny Alaimo, Allegra Levin, Mari Uchida, Sammy Dolgin, Ross Kugman, Olivia Passalino, Brett Pepowski, Joseph Aquino, Sara Ransom, Aimee Ihlenfeld, and Sara Prager.
“One of the best things about the plays is that if you’re a student at the high school, you get to see kids perform who you didn’t realize had such talents,” said Poth.
Hershberger, Neuberger, and Poth became theatre friends in seventh grade when they performed in the Deer Path Middle School production of “The King and I.” Neuberger and Poth continued to act, sing, and dance from that point on while Hershberger found working behind the scenes to be more enjoyable. She can now be found working with the tech crew every Saturday at the high school.
Lustig’s theatre background also began in middle school and she acted as a freshman in high school productions. She also sings and enjoys writing. This year she’s decided in lieu of the spring musical, she will participate in sailing to “mix it up.”
The four girls admit they didn’t have any directing experience before the one-act plays, so they worked together “as if it was one big show, instead of two separate acts,” said Poth. “This experience has made me realize how much thought and work goes into the props, scenes, and tech production.”
In casting the plays, the producers said they tried to look past friendships and relationships with their peers. “Instead of a competition, we focused on who would please the audience,” Lustig said.
They didn’t try to choose the “best” actors, but focused more on who was willing to get a little crazy, and who wouldn’t be afraid to yell or be loud. “We also wanted to represent freshman and people who don’t always get acting parts, like the people who are in tech,” said Neuberger.
“The people who don’t usually act are so pure,” said Lustig.
Neuberger agreed, noting the teens who don’t consider themselves actors didn’t have a “set” way of doing things and easy to direct.
Even though directing their peers was an enjoyable experience that gave them a different perspective about everything that goes into the production of a show, they did have to learn how to retain control and the respect of their actors.
Student-directed plays bring a different dynamic than those directed by adults because the kids are all peers. “It can be hard to find the line between bossiness and constructive criticism,” Hershberger said.
Neuberger said one of the most challenging aspects was “trying to get the actors to trust you and see your vision.”
For more information on the plays, visit www.lfhs.org .