New Trier Theater Production Lets Students Take Charge

The comedy show is the school’s only performance produced almost entirely without adult assistance.

When the curtain rises tomorrow night and New Trier’s Lagniappe-Potpourri is officially underway, the production will supply plenty of witty jokes, memorable lines and catchy songs for all to enjoy.

But for those who know that the annual presentation is the school’s only show produced, directed, written, composed, choreographed, designed, staffed, cast and acted entirely by students -- the magnitude of the undertaking really comes into focus.

Lagniappe-Potpourri 2013: Spoiler Alert, a musical sketch-based comedy production, will begin its three-show run tomorrow night at the Gaffney Auditorium on New Trier Township High School's Winnetka campus, 385 Winnetka Ave. The theme of this year’s show is “reality”.

A Lengthy Process

For some of the nearly 170-students who have put the show together, these three days will mark the end of a process spanning back to last school year.

Seniors Emma Wold and Leah Neudstadt, the show’s co-heads and student producers, were selected by teacher sponsors in March. Since then, adults have stepped away from the production and let the two take the reins.

“I was cast in the show my freshman year,” Wold said. “And, probably, by mid September of that year, I was like, ‘I want to become co-head when I’m a senior’. And I’ve been involved in different areas ever since.”

Wold and Neudstadt began last spring by selecting a board comprising writers and support staff to begin penning and composing the show. The board worked from the end of last school year and through the summer. When the new school year rolled around, the group held auditions for the production, selected a cast, began promoting the show, and coordinated efforts between the show’s band, stage crew, costume crew, set builders and choreographers.

Getting Their Hands Dirty

Wold said it was a challenge to keep track of all the moving pieces. If choreographers needed to know what the set would look like so they could plan dances around it, it was up to the student producers to ensure lines of communication were in place.

“We have a really cool opportunity to grow as leaders,” Wold said, “which is something that really isn’t offered in the rest of New Trier’s performances throughout the year. You can be cast in any show and you can work on the stage crew and help build the set for any show, but Lagniappe is unique in that it offers student’s a chance to really get their hands dirty.”

Neudstadt said that she often spends upwards of 20 hours a week on the production, but that the process has helped her fine tune her time management and communication skills.

“I’ve been a sponsor for 27 years,” says Rick Penrod, designer and technical director in New Trier’s performing arts division. “And I know that the student board is expected to do an impossible task by writing, designing, building, and producing an original musical each year. Every year, however, they achieve the impossible.”

In total, students will sell and raffle off 4,400 tickets for the three shows. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased 45 minutes before show time at the theater’s box office or online. All tickets are $7, but only a few remain.

New Trier theater students will be collecting food donations each night that the show runs.

A full list of student participants can be found below:

Board:  Isabella Boettcher, Susannah Davis, Claudia DeTrempe, Marielle Epstein, Megan Higgins, Claire Hogan, Janak Jha, Jordan Klein, Mikaela Kropp, Lori Kuzatsky, Sarah McCausland, Robyn Mech, Leah Neustadt, Annie Newman, Maggie Noren, Mike Rosenberg, Jeff Salvadore, Matt Smith, Grace Sowlat, Josh Stoller, Lilah Taber, Emily Trevor, Tomek Wasilewski, Elizabeth Wayne, Arnim Whisler, Cailin Whisler, Emma Wold, Emily Wronski, Mylissa Zelechowski 

Band:  Jonathan Anastos, SangYa Bae, Amanda Berlind, Ned Bowen, Marek Buckman, Ben Clark, Eddie Ellensohn, John Friesen, Sarah Henzlik, Byron Hopps, Owen Neild, Becky Nesnevich, Michael Stamos, Reilly Tangen, George Trabaris, Becky Wang, Liah Watt, Michael Weller, Adam Wrobel, Matthew Wronski, Richard Yu, Derek Zajac

Cast: Sarah Africk, Joe Agase, Emily Ashenden, Kevin Blair, Maudie Brown, Michelle Castino, Stacy Choi, Tommy Clabby, Elise Duffy, Malcolm Durning, Helen Feeney, Margo Flynn, Sabrina Fosse, Kathleen Frost, Will Goodman, Carolyn Kaiser, Keegan Kelly, Mary Komlofske, Dylan Lederer, Katherine Mayer, Dina Menegas, Liam Millet, Danielle Newmark, Jack Oldfield, Allie Pappas, Kevin Parra, Kevin Quinn, Carson Rammelt, Alayna Rickard, Alina Taber

Stage Crew:  Daniel Burrack, Matthew Canel, Caroline Clark, Nicole Dillon, Sarah Foster, Ally Gottlieb, Crystal Hawley, Haley Hudkins, Daniel Loumpouridis, Michael Molitor, Abby Ortenberg, Samuel Pavlekovsky, Christopher Perrin, Tom Raible, Nicole Roslan, Alden Stephans, Zoe Wexler, Wheeler White

Costume Crew:  Hannah Antman, Jordan Bretthauer, Mia Campolo, Delphine Dall'Agata, Jessie Gordon, Katie Gotta, Madeline Harbaugh, Ellie Kalman, Elizabeth Leavey, Lizzie Meara, Cassidy Miller, Susannah Miller, Katie Muth, Mia Neumann, Marissa Ondra, Courtney Quinn, Emma Regnier, Sally Rubin, Michele Saavedra, Hannah Soifer, Debbie Song, Diana Trabaris, Stephanie Wert

Management Staff: Alex Blanas, Margarita Costas, and Anna Foster

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