Students Lead Is Teacher’s CreedThespian 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”
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.