• Ending the Thespian Season With a Fairy Tale

    Hanover Central Thespian Society Presents:  Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella


     When the word first got out that the Thespian Society was going to close out their year with the classic version of "Cinderells," the anticipation was palpable.  In addition to the main show, and a student run production, the cast and crew added something extra special for their fans.  Guests had the opportunity to have Sunday Brunch with the cast of Cinderella. 

    There was no bigger thrill than to have Cinderella visit them at their table and take time out from her busy "princessing" to pose for photos.  Here's a look at the fun and fabulous season ending Cinderella! 

     girls dressed like Cinderella

    girls trying on shoes and crying

    Cinderella and Prince Charming

    pictures from Cinderella the play






    Kicking Off 2018-2019 with "Our Miss Brooks"

    The fall production of “Our Miss Brooks,” was a delight from the opening moment when Miss Brooks, played by Ariana Arce and Miss Finch, portrayed by Rebecca Oliver discuss how much Miss Brooks is looking forward to NOT being in charge of the school play and her hopes and dreams for a vacation getaway.  Both Seniors, Ariana and Rebecca provided outstanding performances from beginning to end.  It wasn’t hard to imagine them both as high school teachers facing all of the pressures and demands of educating recalcitrant teenagers.  Nick Feldhouse, who shared the opening scene with the two teachers was perfect in his role as just one such unruly teenager.  Noah McWilliams, as Coach Hugo Longacre, who owns a sailboat, and an unexplored interest in Miss Brooks was everything we expected from a dedicated coach. 

    two girls by desk

    Rebecca Oliver (left) as Miss Finch, and Ariana Arce (right) as Miss Brooks made us believe they were teachers from the very first moment.  

    young man by blackboard

    Nick Felthouse embodied a reluctant student, basketball star and emotionally divided teenager in his role as Ted.

    There is always one performance that solidifies the expert casting abilities of Thespian Society Sponsor, Steve Gustas.  This time, the over the top performance of Simone Wydra as Rhonda and Nerrisa Fezzler as Miss Audubon on Friday night were show stoppers.  To reinforce the feeling of family, the role of Miss Audbon was played with equal success by Linda Hinojosa on Saturday and Autumn Pifferetti on Sunday.  In addition, all three young ladies served as Co-Directors of the student run production of “Miss Teen Beauty Queen” on Sunday night.  The talent found in our Thespians is limitless!

    two kids on stage

    Simone Wydra, as Rhonda with Ted (Nick Felthouse)

    two girls arguing on stage

    Nerissa Fezzler, as Miss Audubon on Friday night, with our own Miss Brooks

    two girls on stage

    You just had to smile everytime Rhonda (Simone Wydra) was on stage unless, of course, you were Jane, her shy but extremely talented rival, portrayed by Jessica Wiersema.  

    kids with bike

    Even the special effects deserved applause as Taylor Aliaga (as Doris) and Nikolas Mondello (as Stanley) make it snow on stage.

    two actors on stage

    Cole Schultz as the beleagured Principal often seemed at odds with everyone!



    A huge thank you to Mr. Gustas and his talented cast and crew for once again bringing a classic to the stage with hard work, dedication and, of course, family:

    crew members on stage

    Crew members receive the appreciation of the cast on Friday night.

    Student Director – Jessica Walters

    Sound Manager – Ryan Taylor

    Microphone Manager/Lights – Lily Bachar

    Microphone Assistants – James Miller and Allison Furman

    Sound – Owen Taylor

    Costumes – Simone Wydra

    T-Shirt Design – Austin Seymour

    cast taking a bow

    Stage Crew:  Lily Bachar, Tiffany Lange, Jade Westerhoff, Hailey Doeden, Kevin Doeden, Eva Holm, MacKenzie Shepard, Jaron Rodriguez, Tyler Mason, Hope Huyser, Corinne Meekma, Hailey Palomo, Allison Furman, Jordan Brown, James Miller, Thea Puente, Maddy Plant, Michaela, Farrell, Cameron Johnson, Owen Taylor, Ryan Taylor and Ernie Heiser.

    Cast:  Ariana Arce, Rebecca Oliver, Noah McWilliams, Nerissa Fezzler, Linda Hinojosa, Autumn Pifferetti, Oliva Sroka, Paige Kubiak, Jessica Wiersema, Kylie McAllister, Taylor Aliaga, Madison Sulek, Ashley Owen, Simone Wydra, Nick Felthouse, Nick Mondello, Cody Donovan, Sarah Piepho, Michael Haskell, Jacob Dinga, Cole Schultz and Michael Vega. 

    couple taking a bow

    One final bow for Coach Longacre and Our Miss Brooks!


    How Much Fun was ending the 2017-2018 theatrical season with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

    Here are some highlights from this memorable, musical frolic!

    4 kids in car

    three kids singing

    boy and girl with bike and two boys talking

    girl on phone with boy watching

    boys talking to three other kdis

    four girls singing in white shirts

    boy with stick surrounded by girls with sticks

    girl with toy gun and another girl with hand on head

    boy with crown at podium with girl standing guard

    boy kissing girls hand

    girl being held up by two other girls while she sings

    The 2017 - 2018 Thespian Season Kicked off with "The Secret Adversary"

    The  first production of the 2017-2018 school year was a challenge for our Thespian Society members as they tackled the complex Agatha Christie's "The Secret Adversary."  In addition, students produced "Help Wanted" and a total of seven  "anti-bullying" micro plays...What an accomplishment!   

    two actors on stage

    three students on stage

    The scenery changes were numerous and flawless and the backdrops created for this production were beyond compare!

    pictures of students on stage in play

    two students on stage talking

    girl with dust mop  and another girl in maids unifrom

    girl in mink stole with boy in suit

    boy holding knife to girls stomach in play on stage

    collage of actors on stage at play

    girl pushing wheelchair patient while boy looks on

    actors and crew on stage with director at play


    Finishing off 2016-2017 strong with High School Musical 2 

    Two students talking on stage      Students in play
    Students singing to each other  
     Picture of High School dancers
    Four students singing                                                       Students dancing
    Thespians Kick Off 2016-2017 With Nit Wits
    Thespian Society Kicks Off With Nit Wits 1
    Hanover Central High School Thespian Society members, Anna Zurisk, Noah McWilliams and Ryan Johnson work their way through early rehearsals of one of three student productions to be offered in on November 20th at 7:00 p.m.  

    If pinning down teacher and Thespian Society Sponsor, Steve Gustas seems a bit daunting, it doesn’t really matter. For more than a decade and a half Mr. Gustas has fostered a sense of confidence and independence in hundreds of Society members.   It’s what makes his efforts stand out and his students willing to offer their thoughts on the upcoming theatrical presentations coming later this month. 

    Taking strong leadership roles this year are Seniors Ian Buckner and Alex Gesiakowski.  Both will experience their directorial debuts in the student developed productions, “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” and “The 9 Worst Breakups of All Time.”   A third student production, “A One Woman Show,” was written by Ian Buckner and he will direct the production as well. 

    Thespian Society Kicks Off With Nit Wits

    Zion Baker, Jessica Walters, Ian Buckner and Megan Baldwin all watch as underclassmen go through an early reading of their lines in one of three student led productions.  The productions will follow the performance of the Society’s fall play, “The Nit Wits” written by Glenn Hughes.   The  student productions will be featured in a single show…on Sunday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m. only. 

    Ian Buckner recognizes his ambitious efforts to star, write and direct are wildly distinctive roles.  “Performing is definitely my favorite, and the easiest of the three to do,” said Ian.  “I’m comfortable in the role of performing but I wrote a play because I love to create and to make people laugh and give them something to enjoy,” he added.  Directing is difficult, because Ian is dealing with many first time performers.  “I don’t want to get up and show them how I would do it, I want them to break out of their shells and see my vision, which is sometimes hard to get them to do,” he chuckled. 

    Ian will be attending Ball State next year and unbeknownst to Mr. Gustas he intends to major in theater education.  As Mr. Gustas cruised by and heard of Ian’s plans, he was startled, stopped and couldn’t help but smile and offer a huge hug to Ian.  "This is the first time I'm hearing this," he exclaimed enthusiastically.

    Mr. Gustas had lots of reasons to smile during early rehearsals.  “The Building Trades class is building our sets and its really coming together.  This is the earliest I’ve had this much of the set done.  They’re really proving what they can do,” he said.  In constant motion Gustas moved on to take the director’s reigns as underclassman struggled a bit with a scene.  

    Brianna Dingey, Treasurer of the Society and a Senior at HCHS was more than willing to chat about her three years of experience in the Thespian Society.   “I have mixed feelings about my last year,” she said with a smile.  “It’s very exciting, but it’s also special because it’s the last time for everything I do.  I have met so many awesome people and made so many new friends while doing this.”  While the first few weeks of practice found the society’s workload heavier than the facility could accommodate, the members, seniors and others were real troupers, using both the classroom and the auditorium for readings and rehearsals.  “The first few weeks were experimental,” said Brianna.  “The really cool thing is we can have fun, but at the same time we get the job done,” she added with a smile. 

    Society President and Senior, Courtney Gray, a four year veteran Thespian agrees.  “There is no personal drama here.  I have made the best lifelong friends I will ever have in the Thespian Society.  The real positive is that we, as seniors, can perpetuate those relationships for the underclassman that are participating for the first time,” she explained.  She has advice for newcomers, “Don’t be afraid to take chances or move chairs around as a member of the crew when you first start.  I did that and you really learn to grow in the program.”  She’s excited about opening night and believes that excitement always makes the first performance the best.  “Saturdays are always okay, but you start to feel a little sad, knowing this is your last fall play,” she said with a smile. 

    It’s early in the rehearsal cycle and the students are quick to laugh, sure to stumble through a few lines, but are confident in their leadership example, Mr. Gustas.  In a word, Courtney Gray describes him as “loveable.”  She’s quick to add that it’s the effort he puts in to helping students, both on the stage and in the classroom, which makes working with him such a worthwhile experience.  It’s a sentiment you’ll hear repeated year after year, play after play and musical after musical. 

    The first productions of the Hanover Central Thespian Society are coming up soon.  The main play is called "The Nit Wits" by Glenn Hughes and will be performed on November 18th and 19th at 7:00 p.m. and again for a Sunday matinee on the 20th at 2:00 p.m.  The student run productions are: "Good Cop Bad Cop" by Ian McWethy and Jason Pizarello, "The 9 Worst Breakups of All Time" by Ian McWethy, and Abigail Starla and “ A One Woman Show,” written by Ian Buckner.  The student directors are Ian Buckner and Alex Gesiakowski (both seniors).  “A One Woman Show,” was also written by Ian Buckner.  The student productions will take place one time only on Sunday, November 20th at 7:00 p.m.

    All tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased in advance from any Thespian Society member or by contacting Society Sponsor Steve Gustas at sgustas@hanover.k12.in.us or purchased at the door.


    Students Lead Is Teacher’s Creed

    Thespian Society Sponsor and teacher Steve Gustas is enthusiastic about the upcoming spring musical.  The production of 'Happy Days' will be presented  February 19, 20 and 21. 
    If the performance of "Happy Days" is half as entertaining as the rehearsals, Hanover Central High School theater goers are in for a real treat! 

    When it comes to the production of the annual fall play and spring musical performed by the Hanover Central Thespian Society it is no secret that Society Sponsor and teacher, Steve Gustas virtually demands that students take the lead in making sure each production comes to life.  “Go, go out in the hall and come up with a dance…you have twenty minutes,” said Mr. Gustas to three cast members at a recent rehearsal.  With a smile and some laughter the students exited stage left and began to get to work. 

    Out in the hallway a group of chorus and dance performers were already working on the five or six numbers they will be performing in the spring musical.  Led by Senior, Leslie Lewis, the group of young women were enthusiastically practicing for the big show.  The performers representing cheerleaders, Pomcats, and students who just enjoy singing and dancing, were working on creating numbers for “Happy Days,” a play based on the popular TV program that spanned a decade from 1974 until 1984.  “It gets a little crazy,” said Leslie.  “We have a lot of songs to learn and dance numbers to create in a very short amount of time,” she said with a huge smile, admitting that the hard work is also fun.   Practices began as soon as Winter Break ended and the performers have practiced every day for 2 hours after school.  Working around extracurricular activities and after school jobs can be challenging, but the singers and dancers are up for the mayhem. 

    Back in the auditorium, Mr. Gustas is excited about Happy Days.  “I think it’s the first time this particular play has been done in Northwest Indiana.  “I enjoy the musicals the most because they allow the students a greater chance to express themselves and be creative.  The more introverted kids come out of their shells and leaders always appear,” he said.  With more than 40 students participating it’s by necessity and design that the students all take on huge responsibilities with each production. 

    There are 18 seniors in the spring musical and while they will be leaving Hanover and the tutelage of Mr. Gustas, they do occasionally come back to watch a play and he has gone to see former Hanover thespians perform.  There isn’t a lot of time to reflect on past performers or plays as the show quickly approaches.  Happy Days, with all of its fun music and dancing will be presented on Friday, February 19th and Saturday, February 20th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets will be $5.00 each and pre-sale availability is yet to be determined, however tickets will be available at the door.



    Opening Night Of “Mary Poppins

    Photo of cast of Mary  Poppins  

    Dancing their way across the rooftops of London, Hanover Central High School Thespian Society performers never missed a beat on the opening night of   Mary Poppins.  Shown are Chimney Sweeps (back row l to r) Allison Graves, Mylissa Haskell, Ryland Babusiak (as Bert) , Hope Johansen (as Mary Poppins), Rebecca Keane, Rebecca Gavel, and Anna Zurisk.  Front Row (l to r) are Chimney Sweeps Emma Frey, Brianna Taborski, Leslie Lewis, Katrine Laurinaitis, Micaela Know, Courtney Gray, and Laila Verduin.

    “I didn’t think they’d be able to pull this off,” said Hanover Central teacher and sponsor of the Hanover Central Thespian Society Steve Gustas, but pull it off they did.  The opening night of  ‘Mary Poppins’  highlighted the efforts of more than 60 students and included the hard work of nearly a hundred students, volunteers and supporters. 

     From phenomenal first time Hanover Thespians like Freshman, Hope Johansen as Mary Poppins to the smooth and flawless performance of Senior Ryland Babusiak as Bert, the audience was enthralled by each and every ‘spit spot,’ spot on portrayal.  The diminutive Hannah Buckner was every bit as believable in the role of little Jane Banks as she is in her everyday persona as a Senior at HCHS.  Absolute silence filled the auditorium when Kayla York, as the Bird Woman, offered a touchingly soft rendition of the hauntingly beautiful “Feed The Birds.”

    From the intricate dance numbers of chimney sweeps to the nearly invisible set changes, Student Director Megan Erickson, Assistant Student Director Allison VanDerWeide, and Stage Manager Kazimere Laurinaitis proved that under the determined leadership of Mr. Gustas nearly everything is possible. 

    From playbill design and production, to set design and construction, to costuming and choreography the students were rewarded with a standing ovation by the large audience that filled nearly three quarters of the auditorium.  At the end of the show the introduction of the individual performers and the audience reaction left many of them sharing heartfelt hugs, huge smiles and a tear or two. 

    Following the performance Gustas recognized those thespians for whom as Seniors, this was the last show.  Gustas also thanked members of the Sophomore class and DECA who hosted a bake sale during intermission and following the show.  

    “Anything Can Happen,” sung by Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael and Winifed Banks, Bird Woman and the Board of Directors includes a line sung by Senior Murjanatu Mutuwa; “You won't know a challenge until you've met it,” and echoes the determination of the student performers and volunteers to prove to Mr. Gustas that they really could pull it off.