The Community Theatre of Howell will be performing Aladdin Jr. on May 10, 11, 17, and 18, at 7:30 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. on May 11, 12, 18 and 19. CTH is located at the at the Howell High School Freshman Campus.
Many people are involved in producing this play. Kevin Rogers is the director, and it is being produced by Michele Barnaby. Several local high school students have lead parts in the play. Aladdin is played by Fowlerville junior Erik Nowicki. Howell High School junior Mackenzie Horton plays Jasmine, along with seniors Austin Schippers as the Genie, and Kean Tokan as Jafar. Many others are involved in the ensemble and crew.
“This part is a very big challenge for me. I am used to playing a romantic lead character, so I am stepping out of my comfort zone. Playing the Genie is hard, but it is fun because I get to do a lot of improv and interact with the audience,” Schippers.
Austin says he is trying to portray the character as closely to the movie character as he can, which was played by Robin Williams. Watching and listening to Williams’s version of the Genie helped him realize there is “always more than one side to a character.”
Emily Mazzullo, who is a junior at Howell High School, is a part of the cast of Aladdin Jr. “I’m so excited to be a part of this show! I’m glad I get to spend this time with all of my friends,” says Mazzullo.
From the time children speak their first words to the time they receive their diplomas, family, friends, and teachers continuously and redundantly ask the thought provoking question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many simply do not know the answer until college, while others may know from the very beginning. Howell High School senior Alison Wiercioch knew what she wanted to be since second grade when she first discovered the world of theatre.
“Being in my first play was the turning point for me and I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Wiercioch said.
It turns out Wiercioch’s first production in elementary school is also going to be her last at HHS. She got cast as the youngest sister Bielke in Fiddler on the Roof at the Community Theatre of Howell, and is now mother Golde in the upcoming HHS production of the show.
“When I found out Ms. Malo [drama teacher and director] was doing Fiddler, I knew I was auditioning for this because it’s my play, it’s my heart,” she said while sitting in the drama room at the school.
Getting the lead role of Golde was an unexpected pleasure for Wiercioch, but is not her first lead role. She has previously played Mary Hatch Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Bonnie Jean in Brigadoon, and Babette the Featherduster in Beauty and the Beast.
This aspiring young actress has auditioned for Western Michigan University, plus a few out of state schools such as New York and Chicago, to pursue her major in theatre. Her number one choice is NYU and wishes to attend their Performing Arts program, Tisch: School of the Arts.
“It’s always been my dream since I was little,” she said “I’m crossing my fingers to get in. I find out April first.”
Afterwards, she sets herself up for high standards to be on famous stages like Broadway or big screen movies, which are played around the world. Despite her excitement for her future, she concludes there will be tears when having to leave her past.
“My mom, Ms. Malo and I talk about this [Wiercioch's graudation] all the time and my mom’s going to have to rip me away from this classroom and this stage because this is where everything started from me,” she said, having an abundance of bitter-sweet feelings. “I have met a lot of friends and Ms. Malo has been over-the-top great for me and helped me with whatever I needed.”
When she is not acting, the talented student still takes the stage as a singer. She takes part in choir and Classicality. Although her favorite thing to do is spend time with her friends and family.
“I love to sing, but I love my family to death. My family is just the thing for me,” she said. “They and my friends are there with me through every play and it’s really nice to have that support system.”
After everything she has done, she would like to gives thanks to Ms. Malo for being the “best director ever,” her parents, her little sister, and everybody that is there to support her, especially Adam Sciberras.
“Theatre is my home, it’s my baby, and I love it,” she said with a warm smile. “I just hope that everybody else can feel that when I walk on the stage.”
The musical Fiddler on the Roof will be performed by talented Howell High School students March 8, 9, and 10 in the high school auditorium. The ticket cost will be $7 for students and seniors and $9 for adults ahead of time with a $1 extra charge for tickets purchased at the door.
This play is based from a book of short stories of Teveye, the main character. It is the story of a mild man, Teveye, with five daughters. He was a man who was a strong believer in keeping tradition, and in this story his daughters fall in love with men who proceed to challenge his ideas of tradition.
“This musical offers so many different things,” said Ms. Amanda Malo, the director of the play. “Beautiful singing, the dancing is great, it’s about families, and it has a heavy message.”
The HHS drama department will be presenting Fiddler on the Roof on March 8, 9 and 10. This performance will be including theater students as well as the band students. All of the music needed for this play will be performed by the pit orchestra. The 17 musical students either volunteered or were recruited. Band teacher, Mr. Jason Smigell, is the music director of the play.
“The pit is a very taxing job for students,” Smigell says.
The music the pit will be performing is the same music performed by professionals so the students must work very hard to get the music right. “The musical is a challenge because it is so long. It is probably the longest concert they will ever do unless they play another pit,” Smigell says.
The students are the only ones playing in the pit besides Mrs. Diane Ives, the piano accompanier. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without her,” Smigell says.
The first piece the pit will be playing is the song “Tradition”, which most agree is the hardest piece out of the whole musical. “It freaked us out at first,” Smigell says.
Cameron Pratt is a senior at HHS and trombone player in the pit. “This is my second pit. I was in Brigadoon last year,” Pratt says. Pratt really enjoys when his hard work is worth it. “The performance is the best part. It’s really nice to see our hard work pay off,” Pratt says.
Charley Garlock, a sophomore and flute player in pit, also played in Brigadoon last year and Fiddler will be her second pit. Unlike others in the pit Garlock will be switching instruments. “I switch instruments from the flute to the piccolo,” Garlock says.
Garlock is also the youngest player on first part. “I am the only sophomore on first part and I’ve been on it for two years,” Garlocks says. Garlock has been in band for five years now and plans to keep up her band career for the future.
Mr. Smigell is really proud of all his students in pit. “The kids in pit are very serious and highly motivated students,” Smigell says.
Renee Augustyn, a senior at HHS, is very excited for the pit. “We’re anxious to see how it turns out,” Augustyn says. Augustyn really likes the environment that pit has and how friendly everyone is. She also likes the play compared to some of the musicals last year. “Fiddler is more ethnically diverse than Brigadoon,” Augustyn says.
Everyone involved in the Fiddler pit is eager to perform after all of their hard work and dedication. Any musical put on at HHS needs both the acting talent as well as the musical talent to make every musical successful. Although the audience cannot see the pit during the performance it’s essential to realize the importance of the pit to the play and all of the students’ hard work.
“I’m very grateful to be able to work in the pit the second year in a row, and I am determined to be in the pit the rest of my high school career,” Garlock says.
Adam Scibberas, a senior at Howell High School, devotes his life to music, preparing himself for the future ahead. One way he gets this experience is by acting in musicals. This year Scibberas landed the lead in the school musical, Fiddler on the Roof.
Being introduced to acting at a later age, he continues to involve himself daily in whatever way he can. In fact, Fiddler will be the fourth production he’s been in. His sophomore year, when he started acting, he played Lefou in Beauty and the Beast. He has been singing his whole life, but started choir in sixth grade. Now, he’s in A Cappella, Highlander Choral, and Calamity.
When asked why he wanted to audition for Fiddler Scibberas says, “I like musicals and acting… and it’s my senior year so I figured, go big or go home.”
What Scibberas really likes about this show is that it’s different from a lot of other shows and it doesn’t have a typical happy ending. He really admires his character.
“I like that he’s a hard-working father with five daughters and he’s very devoted to his religion. I like that he has dreams.”
After high school Scibberas will be attending Western Michigan University with an undecided major, but he knows he wants to do something with music. When he’s not acting, Scibberas enjoys singing, playing guitar, and being with his friends. This senior has some advice for underclassmen.
“You should always try out for the big roles even if you’re not sure you can do it.” He also says to stick to it and practice as much as you can.
Mrs. Amanda Malo, HHS drama teacher and director of Fiddler, has nothing but good things to say about Scibberas.
“The first show I did with Adam was when he was Lefou in Beauty and the Beast and even then he was a natural performer, and I’m so glad that two years later he’s the lead in this production and I have the opportunity to work with him one last time,” Mrs. Malo says.
Fiddler on the Roof will be presented in the HHS auditorium on March 8, 9 at 7 p.m. and March 10 at 2 p.m..
Madison Deadman, a sophomore at Howell High School, has been singing and performing all her life. She has been singing since age two and began vocal lessons at age nine. When asked if she believed individuals were born with a gifted voice or had to learn the talent, she replied, “I think people can learn anything they put their mind to. I’ve always loved to sing, I can’t say that I’ve always been good.”
Being on the big stage are her wishes, hopes, and dreams. She’s been there. With her singing group, SIR3N, Deadman traveled to New York this past summer and sang for the cast of Mamma Mia on a Broadway stage at the Winter Garden Theatre. The cast was very impressed, and Deadman was glowing. When asked what emotions ran through her as she lived, for a moment, this life she’s chasing, all she could say was, “It was thrilling, exhilarating, just thrilling.”
Teenagers in high school are often assigned an identifier; Madison Deadman’s is her voice. She is known through the halls for possessing strong, loud, and beautiful singing pipes. When told that her peers are intimidated by her for her reputation she laughed in confusion and said she feels like a normal high school kid and doesn’t like when people feel that way.
Deadman attends rehearsals for theatre six days a week for five hours a day – almost a full time job. In addition, she takes acting classes when they are offered, all this on top of balancing school, family, friends, and a boyfriend.
Her schedule is consuming but she wouldn’t change it for anything. It is difficult work with her perfectionist persona. Striving for A’s, she works into the night after long days of practice to complete homework assignments. “It’s hard, but it’s something I love,” Deadman said, talking with her hands, “and it’s nice to have Mondays off.”
Deadman lives with her mom, dad, and older brother. Her encouraging parents have driven her to and from lessons, rehearsals, and performances for years. “They’re really supportive and I couldn’t ask for a better family,” Deadman explained. “It’s a perfect balance of supporting me in what I want to pursue but not pushing me to take on more than I can handle.”
Deadman is acknowledged for her singing, but what most don’t know is that she prefers acting. She appeared in her first play at age six, as Gretel, the youngest child, in The Sound of Music. The days prior she had tried out for cheerleading, but quit after getting the call that set in motion her theatre career thus far. “I bawled when I got the part, I was super excited – ecstatic. I called my whole family.”
Since then, Deadman has acted in twenty-one plays, some of her favorite being, Amy in Little Women, Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense, and Annie in Annie. Newly, she will be the co-narrating with two members from her singing group in the upcoming play, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.
Her love for theatre branches from the happiness she feels from bringing delight to her fans. “I love acting because of the audience’s feedback, bringing joy as a response to my show on the stage is a great feeling,” Deadman explained. “I think I’m better at acting, it comes more naturally. It’s also an escape from reality by playing other people and putting yourself in their shoes.”
Although Deadman desires a performing life she would be happy with an alternate route. “Whatever happens, happens,” she said when asked about a future career. She’s also interested in reporting for the news, “It’s kind of like acting.” She’s eager for information, loving to learn things about new people and places, “I’d love to travel the world interviewing people.” Coincidentally enough, Deadman is currently enrolled in a journalistic writing course at Howell High and is loving every minute of it.
Madison is exceedingly successful for being only fifteen, from currently recording a CD with her vocal group, SIR3N, appearing in her first commercial, being a professional actress since sixth grade, having an agent in New York that handles her Broadway auditions, to playing a supporting role two the television series, Spunky Airlines and SciEngiMathePloration. And all tribute she gives to her parents.
“It sounds cheesy,” she laughed, her eyes crinkling in a smile, “but I credit my achievements to my parents. There’s no way I’d be where I am today. I’m just really, really grateful.”
What They Didn’t Know
On October 29, 30 at 7 p.m., the student-written play What They Didn’t Know will be taking place in room K-5.
The play, set in 1585 America, is about a historical event: the disappearance of the Roanoke Colonists. The story behind this major event begins with the people in the colony who vanished without a trace. No one knows what happened, even today. The disappearance of these people struck Junior Cassie Bondie with an idea to make this legend into a play.
“It’s basically my creative interpretation of what happened,” says Bondie.
The play is a mixture of horror, history, and a little romance as well.
The main characters are Rosaline (played by junior Aubrey Mimnaugh), Jeremiah (played by junior Brad Schnute), and Nathanial (played by junior Thorne Lesinski).
On Nov. 16, 17 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 2 p.m., It’s a Wonderful Life will be taking place in the Howell High School Auditorium.
It’s a Wonderful Life
The play is an adaption of the iconic Christmas story It’s a Wonderful Life. This story describes the life of a man named George Bailey who, on Christmas Eve, contemplates the idea of suicide. As an individual he feels that the world would be better off without him. However, his life is turned around when he is visited by an angel named Clarence, whose job it is to convince George to give up on his intention of suicide.
“The angel shows him that his life does matter and that it is truly a wonderful life,” says Ms. Amanda Malo, the drama teacher and the director of the play.
To add effect to the play, it will be entirely in black and white for all but the last scene, which will be in color. It will also help some audience members to remember the movie, especially considering it was all in black and white.
“We are using his life and the black and white colors as an analogy,” says Malo. “His life is black and white due to his depression. Then at the end he realizes that he does have a wonderful life.”
George Bailey will be played by senior Austin Schippers, who has been in the drama program since he was a sophomore.
“I feel like I can relate to the character and I just love the story,” says Schippers.
Besides Bailey, other characters include George’s wife, Mary, played by senior Alison Wiercioch. She explains that she wanted to get involved because she has seen the movie multiple times. Clarence is to be played by senior Daniel Oswalt.
“We picked to do this story because we don’t realize the impact we have on other people,” says Malo. “That it’s truly a wonderful life and we shouldn’t live in the dark.”
“My favorite part about theater is when you have a character and can make it your own,” says senior Henry Tesmer.
Tesmer describes himself as just an ol’, normal human being, which wasn’t hard to depict given his relaxed and laid back manner. However, there’s more to him than that. He contains a liking for theater that absorbs most of his life.
Stemming from a love for movies, Tesmer’s interest in theater began after he picked up a guitar and strived to be just like his role model, actor Jim Carrey. Since 6th grade, his love for theater shot off, when he starred in his first play, called Rats.
“I played a rat,” he says with a small laugh. “I didn’t know what I was doing and I asked a lot of questions, but you become family and get along with everyone.”
Ever since then, he has been in and worked on multiple plays, including the Community Theater of Howell’s Cinderella in which he played Prince Charming. However, according to Tesmer, the one the play that topped the rest was Flowers for Algernon, in which he played the lead, Charlie Gordon this past school year.
“It was very difficult because there were a lot of intelligent standpoints in his life but everyone helped me, especially Ms. Malo,” Tesmer mentions. Ms. Amanda Malo is the drama teacher at HHS.
Besides acting in plays, he also worked on them as well. At the high school level, he sometimes had the job of running the sound and light board for some of the productions and in doing so, he learned other aspects of theater.
Not only that, but his active role in theater gave him the chance of being in Advanced Drama and he was given the opportunity to actually teach students in the Drama I class.
“It’s hard to teach people your own age,” he says, laughing a little. “However, it was exciting because you are teaching people something you love.”
Even though drama is his favorite class, he also enjoys choir. He gave it a shot in 8th grade and decided to stick with it and never looked back. He was in A Capella, the Highlander Chorale, and the men’s group, Calamity, throughout high school.
“It’s the same as theater,” Tesmer adds. “People are doing what you enjoy and you make a lot of friends.”
Outside of his busy theater schedule, Tesmer has other favorite hobbies, including hanging out with friends and playing the ukulele. It was a spur of the moment decision and his reasoning behind the hobby was he wanted to learn a song called “I Follow You into the Dark” by the band Death Cab For Cutie. Other than this and singing, he also likes to listen to indie, acoustic and on occasion, scream-o music.
Also, at one point in his life, he owned a pet piranha. “I wanted one because they were cool and not many people have one,” he says.
Right now, he lives with his mom, dad, who is always away for work, and little brother. He also has two brothers, one residing in Ann Arbor and the other in the Air Force, and a sister who lives in South Carolina.
Soon, he will be heading off to college as well. He is going to Western Michigan and hopes to gain a master’s degree and eventually his P.H.D in theater directing in which he hopes to use to help jumpstart his dream to have his own production company. Even with all his plans set, he feels a little nervous about being on his own.
“You have a lot more responsibilities,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “People used to help me with my dreams but now I am on my own.”
Despite this small worry, he gained great advice from a friend, which he will keep in his head as he moves on in life.
“When in Flowers for Algernon, Becky Dilworth told me that you want to live it more than fear it, and since then I have stuck by that quote,” Tesmer proudly states.
Every summer, the Community Theatre of Howell (CTH) hosts a two-week theatre camp at the Howell High School Freshman Campus. CTH’s Summer Theatre Camp offers kids an opportunity to learn new skills in theatre production, such as improvisation and other acting techniques. The camp will take place July 16 to July 27.
For about ten years, I have been taking part in this theatre camp. It is my personal experience that CTH builds character. I feel like I have grown up with CTH; it’s a second home to me.
Over the course of two weeks, the kids participating in the theatre camp will get a chance to experience what it would feel like to be in an actual production. At the end of the camp, everyone will each be in two productions. The musical number will be taught by Marci Johnson, vocalist, and Maria Usher, director and choreographer.
Starting at six in the evening each day, kids will meet new friends and play various character-building games. Games I have always loved are “Kitty Wants a Corner” and “The Prince of Persia Lost His Hat.” In “Kitty Wants a Corner,” one person is stuck in the middle and must try to get someone to laugh in order to switch places. “The Prince of Persia Lost His Hat” is a fun game that requires players to have a fast tongue; otherwise they will have to move to the end of the line.
Besides fun and games, kids attend vocal classes to warm up their voices and practice for their musical production. CTH’s Theatre Camp, although meant to be a fun outing for kids to enjoy, is first and foremost an educationally-based camp with the purpose to enhance children’s skill sets in theatre.
Community Theatre of Howell’s Theatre Camp provides kids, from first grade to twelfth, to meet new friends and learn new skills in vocals and acting. All children are welcome, whether they are well-versed in the theatre world or are theatre novices. There is only one requirement: enthusiasm and lots of energy!
To sign up for the camp, visit http://www.cththeatre.org/education/education.htm or contact the producer Linda Peasley at email@example.com.
Howell High School is full of talent. Whether it is academically, artistically, or athletically, students all throughout HHS are being recognized for their abilities and achievements. This year, however, many of our seniors have been noticed for their skills in musical theater. Specific seniors, such as Payton Reilly and Bethany Perkins, have been accepted to elite colleges to study musical theater. In the fall, Perkins will be attending Pace University in New York City, and Reilly will be attending Western Michigan University.
Reilly and Perkins got their theater start back in middle school, where they both attended Three Fires Middle School. Under the direction of Ms. Kelli Falls, both seniors participated in TFMS’ s choir and theater programs. In 2008, both Reilly and Perkins landed lead roles in TFMS’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, one of Ms. Falls’ favorites.
“It was a fantastic show. Look for Bethany and Payton to be on Broadway one day!” Ms. Falls shares.
Ms. Falls is currently the choir and theater director at Parker Middle School, and she is really looking forward to their upcoming performances of Anything Goes.
“[Anything Goes] is the funniest show I have directed to date. It is fun and energetic-full of amazing music and dance.”
Anything Goes opens at the Howell High School Auditorium this week with four show times: April 26 at 7:00 p.m., April 27 at 7:00 p.m., April 28 at 2:00pm and also at 7:00 p.m.. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.
With eighth graders as the leads in Anything Goes, the HHS theater program has a lot of talent to look forward to in the coming years. The high school drama department has benefitted from these actors early middle school start.
“Kelli Falls runs a terrific program. You can tell when an actor has been trained by her. She instills a love of theater and a sense of professionalism in her students,” Ms. Amanda Malo, HHS drama teacher, says.
These Howell theater students would not be as successful if it were not for Ms. Falls as the program director.
Ms. Falls’ love for music began as a young age.
“When I was a child of two, when my Grandpa played the piano with me. He always sang to me and he always played classical music. He is my inspiration for teaching music.”
Ms. Falls has two undergraduate degrees in Music Education K-12 and Elementary Education with minors in Math and Science, all from Western Michigan University. She has also earned a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University.
Although Ms. Falls plays the flute, she says choral music is her passion.
“I love that music opens doors for individuals of all types. I love that it is everywhere-movies, radio, advertisements, and in everyone’s heart.”
As a teacher, Ms. Falls aims to lead by example. Ms. Falls has been teaching for 16 years. She taught music to young five year-olds and kindergarten for two years, vocal music in high school for six years, and middle school vocal music for the entire 16 years. Before moving to Howell in 2002, Ms. Falls taught in Coldwater Public Schools for six years.
“I wanted to be a vocal music teacher because I love seeing the joy and sense of pride my students attain through their success as singers. Singing is so personal-you are your voice. I am very enthusiastic about instilling confidence, integrity and acceptance in my students,” Ms. Falls says.
Ms. Falls’ admiration for musical theater began in 1991, when she accepted the lead role of Laurie in the Dexter Community Theater Players’ production of Oklahoma!
“It was an amazing experience, and I wanted to be able to create and share similar musical theater experiences with others. Being involved in a musical offers so many wonderful opportunities for young people to become more confident, to grow as individuals, to become leaders, and to make friends,” Ms. Falls explains.
Ms. Falls performed professionally with the Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater, Michigan for two summers and she has also worked with many community theater groups. Her favorite roles include Maria in the Sound of Music and the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Ms. Falls has been involved in some form of directing for over 30 shows, as a choreographer, music director, orchestra director, vocal director, and director for many theaters ranging from the middle school level to professional level.
Ms. Falls’ musical resume is full of amazing experiences and high achievements. Ms. Falls currently sings with the Premier Big Band, but she has also sung with the Hillsdale Arts Chorale, the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (BLFAC) as a guest soloist, as well as all over Europe. Since 2010, she has been the conductor for the Livingston County Chorale, and prior to that, she was the director of the Livingston County Chorale Children’s Choir for four years. Ms. Falls has also directed the select choir at BLFAC for twelve years.
Ms. Falls tries to uphold the highest standards of music education by participating in several vocal music education organizations. She is currently the Michigan School Vocal Music Association Chairperson for Required Repertoire, and she has served as the District Manager and State Middle School Representative for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). To pass on her musical teaching strategies, Ms. Falls has mentored over 15 student teachers, taught choral method course at the University of Michigan, Madonna University, and Western Michigan University, and published three articles in the Choral Journal, the main publication of the ACDA.
Over her 16 years of teaching, Ms. Falls has earned my achievements. In 1998, she was recognized by Coldwater Public Schools with the “Make a Difference Award,” a yearly award given to a teacher within the school district who has made a positive impact on students.
“This has to have been one of my most memorable awards, as it meant so much to me to think that I was using music to teach life skills to my students,” Ms. Falls describes.
Other major accomplishments that Ms. Falls is proud of include being chosen twice to conduct a state honors choir; the Soprano Alto choir in 2006 and the Soprano, Second Soprano, and Alto choir in 2014.
“This is such an exciting honor, because not only do I get to work with highly motivated singers, I have been chosen to direct these choirs by my peers,” explains Ms. Falls.
Ms. Falls has always been very proud of her students’ accomplishments and awards. Her students have earned consistently high ratings at choral festivals they attend. Many of her students perform individually in state honors choirs, solo and ensemble performances, madrigal dinners and school and community musicals.
Throughout her accomplishments and her community involvement, it is obvious that Ms. Falls puts her students first but what her students teach her is what is important.
“My students have taught me to love life, to live it to the fullest, and to see the joy in the little things,” says Ms. Falls.
Many of Ms. Falls’ students have gone on to study music and/or music education in college. These students, though, know exactly who to thank for their success.
“Ms. Falls not only has tremendous knowledge to pass to her students, she ignites passion and drive into the kids at the middle school. She is the reason I am so in love with what I do.
I will always thank her for that. She’s the reason I am one of the seven girls accepted into the musical theatre program at Western Michigan next fall,” Reilly says.