July 03, 2008

McLeod musical features area high school students

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Ah, summer traditions -- cookouts, s’mores and summer musicals. The final show of the season for the Southern Illinois University Carbondale McLeod Summer Playhouse is a musical featuring local talent from area high schools.

This year’s Annual All Southern High School Theater Project offering is the Broadway musical adaptation of “Little Women.” The production is a joint effort of the University and Carbondale Community Arts (CCA). The Summer Theater provides the theater, box office, orchestra, technical and stage design staff. CCA assists with publicity and programs. And the students bring their best.

Twenty-five students will take the stage -- and three more assist behind the scenes -- to bring the story of the four March girls to life.

The play opens July 31 and runs through Aug. 4. The Sunday performance is a 2 p.m. matinee, while the other performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for students, and are available at the McLeod Theater box office on the SIUC campus, or by calling 618/453-3001.

The cast is listed below, by hometown/school.

The production team is Nancy Stemper, CCA executive director as producer; Jenny Holcombe, recent Master of Fine Arts SIUC graduate, director; Kit Ryan, SIUC student and McLeod veteran, assistant director; Bobbie Bonebrake, SIUC graduate student, set designer; SIUC graduate student Michael Frohling, lighting designer; Kathryn Wagner, assistant professor of theater at SIUC, costume designer; SIUC student Ryan Conroy, sound designer; Christopher Morehouse, director of the SIUC Wind Ensemble and Director of University Bands, conductor; and Carlyn Zimmerman, SIUC graduate student, vocal director. Carbondale Community High School student Robert Ketter is the production assistant. Meisha Hogue is administrative assistant and Teresa Garrison is the ad sales manager.


Josh Kimball is Mr. Brooke. Kimball is active in his school’s drama and music departments. His musical theater credits include productions with CCA, Pyramid Players, Park Avenue Players, Artstarts and more. He participated in the Illinois High School Theater Festival, and plays Steve in a current production of “A Chorus Line.” He also appeared in the Southern Illinois Music Festival production of “A Children’s Nutcracker.”


Nora Benedict is Clarissa, and also a member of the Ensemble and an understudy for Meg. She is a student at Trinity High School in Carbondale. Acting credits include “The North Star” at the Mill Mountain Theater in Virginia, and “A Chorus Line” and “Elizabeth the Queen.”

Ragan Capps is Aunt March. In the past, she played Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast,” the Evil Queen Agravarian in “Once Upon a Mattress” and Anna in “The King and I.”

Sarah Ekstrand is a member of the Hag Chorus and the Ensemble. Ekstrand is new to high school -- she is a freshman this fall -- but she’s not new to the theater. Her theater credits include “Once on This Island,” “Secret Garden” and “Robin Hood.”

Devin Flanagin is Braxton and a member of the Ensemble. He is a freshman at Carbondale Community High School this fall, and this is his first musical.

Portia Goodin is a member of the Hag Chorus and the Ensemble. This is her second CCA performance. She also appeared in the high school production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”

Tannez Pourboghiat is Beth. She appeared as Aunt Eller in a production of “Oklahoma!” She also plays trumpet. She has been a dancer with Willow Street Studios in Carbondale for eight years.

James Repp is Professor Bhaer. Repp is active in theater at CCHS, but he also participates in Jazz Choir, tennis and he’s the goalie for the CCHS soccer team.

Glynnis White is a member of the Troll Chorus and the Ensemble. She appeared in the CCA production of “Aida” at McLeod last year, and also appeared in productions of “Cats,” “Cinderella” and “Godspell Jr.” She participates in speech at CCHS.


Josephine Beyke is the Lead Hag and a member of the Ensemble. This is her fourth CCA All Southern High School production. She recently appeared in “13 Clocks,” presented by the Stage Company.

Meili Couch is a member of the Hag Chorus and the Ensemble. This is her first show with CCA, but not her first stage experience. She appeared previously in productions of “Les Miserables,” “A Chorus Line,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Oliver.”

Anthony Deaton is Rodrigo and a member of the Ensemble. He adds “Little Women” to a growing list of theater credits, including “Hello Dolly,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Rachael Dunning is Amy, and this is her first CCA performance. Her previous credits include the starring role in the Carterville High School production of “Crazy for You.”

Page Madison is Marmee. This is her McLeod debut, though she played Zorah in “Ruddygore” at the Sesser Opera House and played Patricia Fodor in “Crazy for You.”


Amber Adams is a member of the Ensemble. Adams is originally from Elgin, and she said her love of song and stage was born there, when her principal urged her to sing for the student body. Now she has a self-described “passion for musical theater.”

Eva Fisher is Jo, and she is also a senior at Herrin High School. This is her third year in a CCA production. She also appeared in productions of “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Nuncrackers,” “Harvey,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Cats.” She is a member of the speech team.

Amelia Hicks is a member of the Troll Chorus and the Ensemble. Her acting career goes back to the fifth grade, when she appeared in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Other pre-high school theater credits include “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Fame.”

Anna Purcell is Rodrigo Two, a member of the Ensemble and an understudy for Beth. She played leading roles in productions of “Harvey” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and ensemble parts in “West Side Story” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Megan Stanley is a member of the Hag Chorus and the Ensemble. She played the Cowardly Lion in a production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” and Ronnette in “Little Shop of Horrors.” She also plays piano, guitar and French horn.

Grace Stevenson is a member of the Troll Chorus, the Ensemble and she is an understudy for Amy. She appeared in the CCA production of “Aida” last year at McLeod, and also appeared in productions of “School House Rock,” “The Music Man,” and “Hansel and Gretel.”

Johnston City

Kyle Franklin is the Knight and a member of the Ensemble. He participates in theater, music and speech at his high school, and in Artstarts on Broadway. He played a starring role in “Sweeney Todd” and also appeared in “Grease.” He is in a current production of “A Chorus Line.”


Sarah Beth Odle is Meg. She has seen several major roles on stage, including Jasmine in “Aladdin Jr.,” Gabriella in “High School Musical,” and Christine in “Phantom of the Opera.” Other theater credits include “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Godspell Jr.,” “Will Rogers’ Follies” and “Beauty and the Beast.” She plans to study musical theater after she graduates from Marion High School, where she will be a senior this fall.

Lawrence O’Neill is Mr. Lawrence. He has more than 25 theater credits to his name already, including productions with CCA. Some of his past performances include “Godspell,” “Aladdin,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”


Sennia Johnson is a member of the Troll Chorus and the Ensemble. This is her first musical, but she has plenty of experience with music. She plays clarinet and sings both soprano and alto.

Tim Wessel is Laurie. This is his third stage appearance with CCA. He also appeared in “The Music Man” at John A. Logan College and “Bye Bye Birdie” at Murphysboro High School.