It was glitz and glamour Saturday evening when the Michigan City High School Theatre Department put on their new show “13,” the story of young Evan Goldman, a young kid from the Big Apple who moved to small-town Indiana after his parents divorced.
His life takes a crazy turn when he struggles with many of the things real-life junior high school kids do: Popularity, friendships, relationships, struggling to keep his new and existing friendships whilst trying to simultaneously have the best Bar Mitzvah Appleton, Indiana has ever seen.
The show is a labor of intense love not only for all of the students involved in making it a perfect show, but also for the adults. Starting 8 weeks out from show date, students and theatre staff alike often spend hours after school working on lines, music, and choreography almost every day. The kids in the Stage crew even show up on Saturdays to work up to 4 hours at a time to get everything perfect.
Charles Puetzer, the Director of the play as well as Stage Manager, Technical Director, and Set Designer for the Theatre Department, had a lot to say about how hard the students who put their time, energy, and often blood, sweat, and tears into making MCHS’ Theatre Department’s productions the best they can be.
“A lot of people don’t understand how much time, not even myself, but the kids put in memorizing,” said Puetzer. “You have 10 songs you have to memorize, you have 100 pages of lines you need to memorize, and these kids have learned some really neat techniques to do that. You know, we might spend 2 hours during rehearsal, but some of these kids go home and they’ll spend 2, 3 hours at home and they’ll work on it on the weekends where they’re just running lines and singing. It’s really nice when I hear from parents going “I cannot get them to stop singing these songs at home!””
In addition to being quite proud of his students’ acting achievements, his pride is compounded by their academic achievements. “One of the biggest lessons these kids learn doing theatre is not being able to talk in front of a crowd, but it’s time management. They put a ton of time into a show, and they have to learn how to manage their time and how to work through having enough time to do this and keep their grades up. We went through yesterday, my senior group has a median GPA of 4-point-something. My junior class, a majority of them have a 3.5 or better. We strive to succeed.”
The students also have a special passion for what they do. Lauren Werner, a senior at MCHS, is acting in the show and builds meaningful relationships through the extra-curricular activity.
“I’ve made a lot of connections in high school through acting,” explained Werner. “I’ve been doing this since Freshman year, every single year since I’ve been in high school. My best experiences and my favorite experiences in high school have been through theatre.”
Julia Miller is a junior at MCHS, and is the Light Designer and Student/Tech Director for the show. While she’s also an actress, she prefers the stage crew side of things when it comes to musicals.
“I don’t consider myself a very strong singer, but I love being involved in everything to do with theatre,” explained Miller with an enthusiastic smile. “So being able to do something else and not being on stage is still giving me a purpose to be here. I love doing this after school. I love coming in here and just knowing I have another family to go to constantly. After this ends, we’re going to move into doing One City, One Sound and we’ll begin working on the play. I just have a non-stop family here to go to.”
Michigan City’s run of “13” has only one more day left in the run, Sunday November 19th at 2:00PM in the Michigan City High School Auditorium, so if you haven’t caught it yet, get out to see it!