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Nashville Christian high school students brought the events surrounding Bloody Sunday to the main stage. Set in Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s, Laura Lundgren Smith’s The Shape of the Grave introduces us to Colleen who is desperate to find meaning in her own life after tragedy has taken half of her family. NCS actors spent weeks exploring Irish history, eating Irish food, and interviewing the author of the play. When asked why Lundgren Smith chose to write this historical play for young actors she replied, “because people underestimate teenagers.” NCS actors also worked with renowned acting and dialect coach Jill Massey on their Northern Irish accents to accurately portray this historical piece of literature that has modern-day relevance. Veteran US Marine Jordan Pritchard shared his experience behind the wire in Afghanistan, and our actors have found the insights he offered extremely valuable in informing their acting.
This was a fantastic show for anyone who wants to open a dialogue about the power of understanding history, the importance of avoiding violence, or the despair that can accompany circumstance. Madison Gupton, a junior, played the main character Colleen and stated, “It’s important to see this play, especially today since the world is so divided, and there is so much fighting everywhere. This play makes you step back and think about the bigger picture.”
The Shape of the Grave was performed in conjunction with Annie Jr. on October 5th and 6th.
With bullying, school shootings and teen suicide on the rise, NCS senior Tollie Boone was inspired to create this powerful spoken word and song in response – Only Yesterday.
"When I started writing this, it was just a short little poem that I really thought nothing about. It was just something to get off my brain to help me fall asleep. After I finished writing, I realized that this world isn’t as safe as it was when I was younger. I used to be able to go outside and not have to worry if someone was going to hurt me. Now in today’s society, we have to increase security and make rules more strict. Keeping people out only invites more problems in. The only way we can help someone is if we ask. We can’t keep ignoring one another thinking that one day we will say something to them. That 'one day' we have now might not always be there. Galatians 6:10 says, 'Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people…'"
Act well your part; therein lies all the honor. This quote from Alexander Pope is the motto of the International Thespian Society. The ITS group at each school is called a troupe and is usually led by the theater teacher. Students are inducted into this theater honor society based on points earned in a variety of areas including technical theater, production, and performance. Nashville Christian School has both a Junior Thespian Troupe for 6th-8th grade students and a High School Troupe for 9th-12th grade students. Induction qualifications for the junior troupe are 50 points, while 100 points must be earned for induction into the International High School troupe.
Students are recognized for theatrical achievements and also earn scholar recognition for maintaining high GPA’s during their stage productions. Here at NCS it is not unusual for our thespian students to be on the honor roll and president’s list! We have had a few seniors graduate with the highest honors offered by the ITS. Jack Forte (2018) and Laura Pickard (2016) both graduated as International Honor Thespian Vice President's List Scholars. Joey Hendricks, Hendrick Shelton, and Maggie Shivers all graduated in 2016 as National Honor Thespian Vice President's List Scholars. The time it takes to reach these levels of excellence means that the thespian troupe members spend a lot of time together. Senior Tollie Boone says, “The thespian club at NCS has given me a group of people that I consider my family. They have helped me overcome many obstacles in my life and also helped me become more confident in myself. I can always count on my thespian family to have my back through everything.”
Tollie is a great person to speak to about the troupe. Last year, she became our first student to reach the level of International Honor Thespian during her junior year. She earned this honor while maintaining a scholar level GPA, playing basketball and being a hydration engineer for the football team! Her passion for performing and love for technical theater have combined to keep her involved in nearly every performance on the NCS stage. Tollie started her theater career with minor roles such as a munchkin in Wizard of Oz, but grew to lead shows as James in James and the Giant Peach and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls! Most recently she was seen as Kyler in Bring it On!. What many people don’t know is that Tollie is an exceptional lighting designer and brings her expertise to almost all of the shows that are produced at NCS. She plots and programs the lighting for every scene in each production.
When asked about her reaction to achieving this level of recognition as a junior, she replied, “I was super happy. Being the first junior to achieve that as well made it even more special. It took so much time and dedication to the theater department performing and helping backstage but it paid off.“ Tollie spent a week this summer with fellow thespians Helina Butler, Taylor Dahl, Michael Dubois, and Megan Parker training in Princeton, New Jersey at the New Beginnings workshop with Peter Sklar. That experience culminated in a showcase where they performed monologues on stage at the Orpheum theater in New York. Tollie and Taylor will be returning for another intensive session over the Christmas and New Year’s break. Tollie plans to major in theater in college.
NCS is proud of both our current thespians and aspiring actors and their work on and off the stage. As each of them strives to follow the path God sets before them, we know that they will continue to use the talents He has given them to glorify Him. Make sure to catch this year’s performances and support the fabulous young people that make up the Fine Arts program at Nashville Christian School.
The Eagles were flying high, literally, in this year’s spring musical, Bring It On. The cast came together with an unforgettable, high-energy performance with a perfect combination of adolescent humor and gravity-defying stunts. There were several newcomers to the stage as well as some seasoned veterans to round out a dynamic crew. We asked senior Chandler White to tell us more about his experience as a first-time participant in an NCS drama performance. Here’s what he had to say:
Rapping. Basketball. Dancing. Stunts. Cheerleading. How could I possibly say no to that combination? I have always been a super athlete, playing sports at any time of the day against anyone. However, I have never tried a play or even wanted to be a part of anything related to theater. However, this year proved to be a little different.
After weeks of my friends convincing and pushing me, thinking about my opportunity to try something new, and Coach Kayce encouraging me non-stop, I decided to audition for “Bring It On: The Musical!” This decision proved to be the best decision that I have ever made!
There are plenty of ups and downs with everything in life. However, I can honestly say that this play was coasting up the entire time. The best part of this play was the community that we were able to create. The message of the production was, simply put, “Make the most of your opportunities and be the person that you want to be.” Each and every individual in the play made the most of the moments we had together and have now taken themselves and created the person that they wanted to be.
The time that we put into this play was almost unbelievable! We spent hours, days, weeks, months practicing all the different lines, choreography, stunts and motions. I would probably say that the most difficult part of this play was breaking out of my comfort zone to sing and dance. However, after taking a few lessons in both and realizing that everyone supported me and was there for me, I was very surprised that I could do it! Before I knew it, I had become a true showman!
The messages behind this play were so impactful and powerful that most people overlook them. However, they stuck with me. I have taken away many valuable lessons that have allowed me to strengthen relationships, develop my individual self, and enjoy the life that I have been given. If I could leave anyone with one small thing that would impact their lives forever, I would tell them this — try a play. It’ll be one of the greatest decisions that you ever make.
Click here to view all of the great photos from the show!
This year's Talent Show (Celebrate the Child) was hosted for the first time ever by 3rd grader Ellie Sheehan. Seasoned co-host, Coach Jeff Brothers, played Ed McMahon to her Johnny Carson and the two had great chemistry onstage.
But the highlights of the show were of course the stellar performances by Nashville Christian School students and parents. First grade represented with Jeremy Wells back on stage, this time with Brady Irwin and another crowd-pleasing dance performance. Andrew Jarosemich showed his smooth moves with his dance to Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal.
There were some great duos with a dance by fifth graders Isabella Jennings and Aubrey Hollahan, and the Webb brothers Champ and Gabe showing their skills on drums and base guitar. Freshman Aubrey Page and junior Anna Jones sang beautiful solos and then teamed up for a great duet of Carry Me Home. Seniors Seven Gross and Will Batty joined forces at the keyboard with It's Too Late, and fourth grader Finn Shaver also tickled the ivories with Waltzing With Elephants.
One of the unique things that makes the Nashville Christian School Talent Show special is seeing parents join their children on the stage. Sixth grader Taylor Dahl and freshman Briteynn Fuson both sang beautifully with accompanyment from their fathers. And of course everyone enjoyed seeing the Sheehan and Posavac families come together with a repeat performance by Horse Taco.
If you missed any of these great performances, it's not too late. You can see the show in its entirety below!
This year, the Fine Arts Department added an additional show to their schedule with a special presentation of Steel Magnolias. Faculty and staff were invited to audition for the show and the final cast included Nicole Arnold as Clairee, Julie Shaver as Truvy, Kathy Gupton played M’Lynn, and Kayce Green doubled us as director of the show and Ouiser. The role of Shelby was played by senior Makenna Paszek and Annelle was played by junior Tollie Boone.
Their performances did exactly what they were meant to do, drawing “laughter through tears” from mesmerized audiences. We interviewed the cast members about the experience:
What made you decide to audition for this show?
Makenna: I decided to audition for the show because my mom had said she really loved the movie and thought I would make a great Shelby. I hadn’t heard of it before auditions, but decided to watch the movie and fell in love with the story.
Tollie: The movie is one of my all time favorites that I love watching with my mom. Also I wish to continue in acting as a career and I had never done a straight show before and so I thought this would be the best show to learn another way to act.
Nicole: My decision to audition for the show was based on the enjoyment I get from being on stage and the insights that putting myself back in "acting shoes" gives me when I direct students. Reminding yourself of all the apprehensions and challenges that your students face helps you to relate to them more when mentoring and instructing.
Kathy: Steel Magnolias is one of my favorite movies. My friends and I quote lines from it all the time. When I saw that NCS was planning to do a high school/faculty production of it, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
Julie: Actually, Kathy Gupton signed me up for the audition and printed out a monologue for me to use! ☺
Kayce: I wanted to just direct but in the audition Nicole and Trisha made me read for Oiuser.
What was the best thing about the experience?
Makenna: Throughout auditions, rehearsal, and the show, I grew in my relationships with the other cast members. Having a small cast means a lot of bonding. It was really great to see the faculty members outside of their jobs. We all became super close during the time spent on this show. They all made it a wonderful last show for me.
Tollie: Getting to know the teachers involved during and after the show and being able to go to them if I need anything.
Nicole: The best thing about the experience was the camaraderie developed between the cast and the support that we were able to give one another.
Kathy: Getting to know the other cast members better and being able to work with them on the stage was the best experience. I literally laughed my way through every play practice. I also enjoyed watching myself grow and improve from beginning to end.
Julie: It sounds cliché, I know, but the best thing was definitely the camaraderie among the cast and crew. What an amazing group of people!!
Kayce: The best thing was the therapy it provided when it comes to how and when to grieve. I think that was the biggest part that everyone that was in the show and in the audience related to. Everyone has had to grieve, and we are never done grieving the loss of a loved one. The more opportunities we have to experience such a strong emotion together, the more people realize how much we all have in common.
What was the biggest challenge?
Makenna: The biggest challenged I faced was being pushed as an actress. I have never done a show as serious as this one was and I had to overcome some obstacles. I had to really get in the mindset that diabetes is something that seriously affects some people in the world and it wasn’t something I could take lightly. This show was a very emotional one for sure.
Tollie: Having to act like I was pregnant was probably the hardest thing for me. It was so uncomfortable sitting and even standing. I had to learn how to walk with the belly and it was just an overall strange experience.
Nicole: The biggest challenge was balancing time and schedules while being a mom, teaching, directing the elementary show and working on our JTF performance.
Kathy: Learning all the lines and cues and ways to deliver the lines was a challenge. Trying not to laugh when Makenna and I were doing the scene where we argue after she tells me she is pregnant may have been the biggest challenge. There was a time during the last week of practices where we could not look at each other and say our lines at the same time without laughing. Thankfully Mrs. Arnold gave us some exercises to do to get through the giggles. While not necessarily a challenge, effectively portraying M’Lynn’s grief in the last scene was something that I worked the hardest on.
Julie: Definitely learning my lines: I didn’t realize how many lines Truvy had in the play! Oh! And all the late nights at practice. I am usually in bed by 8:30!
Kayce: The challenge for me was seeing this from both perspectives. Being on the stage as a director, while acting was totally challenging. Two hats, one very specific and one very broad, figuring out the story and telling it and also, designing it so others can tell it was very hard. It was like plotting the map and then manning a portion of the ship was very difficult.
Anything else you want to say about your experience or that you want people to know?
Tollie: Another thing I loved about this show was being able to perform it for my bible teacher Coach McPherson and his wife and seeing their faces all smiling while watching the show. Being able to put a smile on their face was very heartwarming.
Nicole: I want people to know that we have very talented faculty and students and we need to get more people on campus to experience the impact of quality live theater.
Kathy: I think that everyone can identify with each of the characters in some way or another. I see people that I know in each of the characters and the other actors did a phenomenal job of bringing them to life. I hope that the play and characters touched everyone in some way that was helpful for them. The theater department does an amazing job. There were nights that they did not leave until after midnight to get the stage and costumes completed. It is hard to fully cover everything that they did to prepare for the play. A huge shout out to Kayce’s amazing direction and set design skills and Mrs. Arnold’s spot-on costume design!
Julie: It was truly an amazing first acting experience. I really appreciate my castmates and especially Kayce’s expertise and advice!
Kayce: I would like to say thank you to my husband and my daughter. They are my world. Thank you to: Kathy Gupton, whose calm, reflective, and quietly strong M’Lynn broke my heart in auditions. Julie Shaver’s clear, unapologetic Truvy, who steers us all along, Tollie Boone for her artist’s heart, Makenna Pazeck for her brilliant, fiery stubborn portrayal of Shelby, and Nicole Arnold, whose Clairee is beautifully timed, and is certainly the yin to my Ouiser yang. And to God, for the incredible way he steers my life every day. He is in and behind every story that we tell. Everything leads back to Him.
Once again, the NCS drama department produced a fantastic show with Guys and Dolls, an award-winning musical based on two short stories of Damon Runyon written in the 20’s and 30’s about some lovable hustlers, gamblers and showgirls in historic New York City.
The plot highlights the lives of these characters with a storyline based around the romances of two oddball couples. One comedic couple is nightclub performer Adelaide who has been engaged for 14 years to Nathan Detroit who runs “the oldest established, permanent floating crap game in New York.” The other couple is big-time gambler Sky Masterson and innocent mission worker, Sister Sarah Brown.
Leading the well-cast ensemble were seasoned NCS performer Jack Forte as Nathan Detroit and newcomer to the stage, Bryce Pemberton as Sky Masterson. Bryce is regularly recognized as Nashville Christian’s starting quarterback; however, he showed he is multi-talented with his sly, charming and loveable portrayal of the Bible-quoting gambler. Many other first-time performers stepped off the ball fields and gym floors, and ultimately out of their comfort zones, to try the stage.
“It was great to step out of my comfort zone and see another side of NCS besides athletics. It was cool to see the actors in their element and how they carried themselves. Also the amount of work that they put in to put on a show is insane.” - Will Irwin
“It was very different from what I'm used to, but very fun and funny. It was definitely a good experience!” - Slater Howard
Maggie Shivers (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) and Annmarie Alexander (Benny Southstreet) played the sidekicks to Nathan Detroit with charm and moxie. Leading lady Abby Shivers played the stiff then liberated missionary, Sarah Brown, so believably, and Tollie Boone was perfect as the ever-frustrated and long-engaged Adelaide. Another newcomer to the stage was Tanner Goodman as Big Jule, a serious gambler from Chicago. Tanner was a great combination of grouchy gangster and gentle giant against stage veteran Justin Littrell’s hilarious performance as Harry the Horse. All the guys and dolls are too numerous to name, but they brought the laughs and wowed the audience like never before.
Here’s what Fine Arts Director Joey Boone had to say about the show:
“Once in a while a show comes along where it feels like God smiled a little extra on you, and things just fall into place. While it still takes LOTS of hard work on everyone's part, it just seems like everyone is in the right role both on and off stage. Well, in my opinion, that was Guys and Dolls. From the costumes to the cast to the students working backstage…the set, the lights, the parents helping behind the scenes at rehearsals, I just could not be more pleased. In the twelve years I have been here, that was the smoothest running show to date. Everyone put their best foot forward, and it paid off. I am proud of them all.” - Joey Boone
Kayce Greene directed the show and was proud as well. This is Kayce's first year in the drama program, and she has helped take it to another level. Here’s what she had to say about her first run directing an NCS production:
“I wanted to personally thank everyone for being involved in the show, whether you were in it, came to see it, you donated, you helped labor a little bit or a lot…I can't tell you how much you made a huge impact on the show and these kids' lives. The show came off better than I think any of us could've imagined, and I am extremely grateful to the kids and to all of you. I dream of a school filled with athletic and arts programs that span all grade levels and grow a REAL sense of community! These kids and everyone involved helped that come to light. This particular production will live in my memory forever for so many reasons. I can’t wait for the next one!” – Kayce Green
Enjoy these photos from the show and stay tuned for “Luck Be A Lady” at the end.
Here are some fun facts about the production. Did you know?
- Number of people in the cast and crew = 65
- Number of 6th graders = 6
- Number of 7th graders = 10
- Number of 8th graders = 4
- Number of Freshmen = 4
- Number of Sophomores = 9
- Number of Juniors = 7
- Number of Seniors = 11
- Students working behind the scenes during the show = 9
- Number of lights on the stage = 358
- Number of costumes originally built = 37
- Number of costumes “pulled” = 104
- Number of buttons sewn = 127
- Man hours to create a Mission Cape = 4
- Mission Capes and Jackets created = 14
- Props in the show = 32
- Man hours to make the Roxy sign = 10
- Number of batteries used in the show = 1,632
- Average time to block a scene = 2.5 hours
- Hours of rehearsals = 122