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Students perform at zoo’s Halloween party

If you take any little ones to the Louisville Zoo’s World’s Largest Halloween Party this weekend, look for Wreck it Ralph and Peter Pan, characters portrayed by two of our students. Senior Jesse Zoeller is Wreck It Ralph, and junior Luke Rodski is Peter Pan. Sophomore Mara Holifield was a substitute for the regular character playing Doroty one weekend.  Jesse and Luke have been working each weekend at the zoo throughout October and will continue through this weekend. 

Both students are active in Providence theatre, but this was the first acting gig outside of school for Luke. He said he enjoyed the chance to improvise lines every night, although it could be a challenge to stay in character for four hours – all without knowing what the next group of children will say. He also found it rewarding when some of the visitors reacted strongly to seeing his character.’

“There’s always that one kid who’s been waiting all night to see Peter Pan, and they run around the corner and run up to you like, ‘Peter Pan!’” he said. “It’s really a wholesome feeling.”

Jesse has acted in two shows on the New Albany RiverStage in addition to taking part in several Providence productions. He has a lead role as the antagonist in the upcoming fall musical  and is in rehearsals for Popcorn Players and Providence Singers. He said he likes working at the zoo because it helps him push his acting abilities and allows him to meet more people in local theatre.

“It helps me exceed my ability in acting and acting in character,” Jesse said.

Although Jesse does have to remain in character for the duration of each night at the zoo, not having to memorize lines has helped in manage playing and preparing for several roles in different performances in the same time period.
“Being part of the zoo and giving one hundred percent effort to school and extracurriculars is a bit of a challenge, but I’ve been able to manage my time well,” he said.

Luke, who also is in Popcorn Players, said that doing so much improvisational work at the zoo has helped him as he rehearses for the Christmas troupe’s upcoming season. And he’ll have a similar chance to make children happy.

Sophomore Mara Holifield, second from left, poses with her sisters and other cast members on the night she worked as a stand-in.

“Popcorn Players has that same kind of magic you get performing for them (children) at the zoo,” Luke said.

 

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Sophomore loves to help others

Sophomore Beth Wimsatt already has nearly four times the necessary amount of service hours to meet her graduation requirement. But she has no plans to stop helping others. She is a member of the New Albany Deanery Youth Ministry Action Team (YMAT) and is involved at her parish, St. Mary of the Knobs, from volunteering at the parish fish fry to babysitting during Bible study sessions. What she has most enjoyed, though, are the summer camps and mission trips she has been involved in.

The summer before her freshman year, she participated in the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries Faith in Action, a four-day mission trip that provides local service opportunities. This past summer, she traveled to Campton, Ky., on the Wolfe Pack Mission Trip to provide service to the Appalachian community. She also spent a week as a counselor for the first time at Camp Marian on the grounds of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception and run by the Sisters of St. Benedict.

Her Camp Marian service was a new opportunity to return to the camp that she had attended as a participant for the previous three summers. Beth first found out about the four-day camp for middle school girls from a family friend, and the two were signed up to attend when her friend couldn’t go at the last minute. Beth said she was initially afraid that she would not have any fun without her friend, but she soon met new friends that she continues to connect with today.

“You really form a bond with everybody there from canoeing, swimming, and walking around the property,” Beth said. “You just have fun.”

The girls camp out in tents near the lake and take part in a number of activities, including archery and crafts. After having so much fun the first summer, Beth returned for two more sessions. This past summer, she chose to return in the only way she could – as a leader. She said being a camp counselor added a new dimension to the experience.

“It’s almost more fun to lead it,” Beth said. “You get to get there a day earlier and have lunch and dinner with the Sisters and experience their lifestyle. (I also liked) just getting to know the other counselors and getting to help others have fun.”

Beth, second from left, rehearses a scene from Honk! during Musical Theatre Production class.

Beth said she plans to continue helping others, something she learned from her mom and older sister. She knows her service hours exceed what’s required, but she doesn’t serve to rack up hours.

“It’s not for the numbers, but it’s just counting what I already do,” she said. “It’s just something I love to do now.”

Of her current service activities, Beth is active in YMAT and said she enjoys planning activities for Deanery youth. Not only is it satisfying to create opportunities for middle schoolers to “build their connection to their faith,” but she also has made close friendships with other teens on the YMAT board.

Beth also is on the JV Girls Soccer team and is active in theatre. She will play the role of the Lady in Red in the children’s show, The Enchanted Bookshop, which will be performed Oct. 26-27 , and the role of JayBird in Honk!, a musical adaptation of The Ugly Duckling put on by the PHS Musical Theater Production Class Nov. 8-11.

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Fall show to offer mix of comedy, mystery

What do Alfred Hitchcock, Monty Python, and James Bond have in common? All three are influences in this year’s fall show, The 39 Steps. It’s a murder mystery full of zany characters adept at slapstick comedy where even the scene changes are part of the show.

The cast is preparing for opening night on Sept. 15 and is confident audiences will love it.

“I think audiences will like the humor in it,” said senior Ross Reyes, who plays an underwear salesman and a police officer. “It’s really a unique murder mystery that’s not like anything we’ve done before.”

Senior Jenna Kaiser agrees. She likes the show’s witty humor and physical comedy.

“It’s a really interesting story line,” said Jenna, who plays Pamela, a stranger on a train. “It’s a comedy and mystery together.”

The cast also likes everything about the show, from the characters each plays to its quirky intricacies, including the funny scene changes. Senior Griffin Rogers plays Richard Hannay, the lead character.

“He’s 37, British, suave, intelligent, charismatic, James Bond-like, and quick witted,” Griffin said. “It’s fun to play him, especially with a British accent.”

Senior Jesse Zoeller said he likes how the cast works together to make the show a success. The show has so many roles and so many visual elements that each person plays a vital role even if the role is minor.

“Every role is essential, no matter how big or small it is,” said Jesse, who plays Mr. Memory, Crofter, and Heavy.

Junior Claire Reyes said she enjoys the chance to play so many different parts in the same show. She plays Annabelle Schmidt, the beautiful, mysterious secret agent whose murder sets the mystery in motion. She also portrays Mrs. McGarrigle, one of the owners of The McGarrigle Hotel where the murder takes place.

Even the villain has fun, or so says junior Stephen Wilson, who portrays Professor Jordan, the play’s antagonist.

“I like my role,” Stephen said. “It’s nice playing a villain for a change.”

Stephen, like his fellow cast members, said he thinks audiences will really enjoy the show.

“We have a really great cast, and the creative leaps we’ve taken to put on the show make it unique.”

The show runs Sept. 15 and 21-23 at 7:00 p.m. and Sept. 16 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ray Day Little Theatre. Tickets are $10 each and seating is limited, so purchasing tickets in advance online is encouraged. Tickets will also be available at the door.

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Seniors prepping for two spring musicals

Seniors Kaleb Dunn, left, and Andrew Bittenbender are male cast members for all-girls school Sacred Heart Academy’s spring musical.

Preparing for the spring musical takes months of rehearsals to learn choreography and lyrics. It’s hard work for the entire cast, especially the leads. Seniors Andrew Bittenbender and Kaleb Dunn are committed to putting on a quality spring musical here – and at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville. Andrew is reprising his role of Jean Valjean in SHA’s production of Les Miserables, which debuts this weekend. Kaleb is Javier, Valjean’s nemesis. In the PHS production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew will portray Judas, and Kaleb, Caiaphas.

Andrew played Valjean last year and tried out for the role at SHA after his girlfriend told him the all-girls school was looking for male students to audition. Having played the role previously certainly helps him prepare, especially since he is rehearsing for two shows, but the SHA show is an updated version and some of the lyrics have changed. He also had to learn new staging.

It also helps that neither role has spoken lines to memorize, Andrew said. Les Mis is a sung-through musical, and Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera. The rehearsals are generally at different times, with PHS rehearsals after school for now, and SHA’s in the evening – but just a half hour in between. And the show will be presented over the first two weekends of our spring break, when the Superstar cast is on break.

Andrew and Kaleb rehearse a scene for Les Miserables, which opens this weekend.

Kaleb portrayed the bishop in last year’s Les Mis, so learning the lead role required more work. But the most challenging part was playing a role opposite his personality – in both shows.

“I’m a go-with-the-flow type person, so trying to figure out how to come across perpetually angry was hard,” he said.

But portraying that emotion in Javier does help him prepare for Jesus Christ Superstar in his role as the high priest.

“They’re both authoritative and angry with everyone,” he said.

Kaleb and Andrew said they have enjoyed working with the SHA cast and look forward to the show this weekend. For Kaleb, he likes the chance to meet new people. Here, he’s worked with the cast and gone to class with them throughout high school. But the SHA cast includes actresses from that school and actors from several other schools.

“It’s a pretty interesting group of people that got together for this show,” Kaleb said.

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Students put on musical Godspell this weekend

Tomorrow night, the fall musical Godspell will debut in the Ray Day Little Theatre. Fall musical? Yes, thanks to the Musical Theatre Production Class, students have the opportunity to present a musical in November. The cast is smaller as is the venue, but audiences will still be highly entertained by this musical retelling of the Gospel of Matthew.

Unlike the spring musical, most rehearsals are held during class time. Most of the performances will be this weekend, with show times tomorrow through Saturday at 7:00 p.m. with a 2:00 matinee on Saturday as well. Next week, Deanery sixth graders will be treated to a special performance during the school day.

The cast is looking forward to demonstrating their hard work over the semester. Senior Brinley Prather, a member of the ensemble, said she found it was easier to fit the show intro her schedule by being able to rehearse during the school day. Junior Olivia Hall agrees, adding that she liked how the cast was able to help each other learn the music in the show.

Brinley is looking forward to entertaining audiences with the music, which is full of energy. “They’re songs you can really get into, and they have a lot of emotion in them,” she said.

Photos by Jennifer (Bartley) Dunn ’94

Senior Andrew Bittenbender, who portrays Jesus, also loves the music. “It’s some of the best music in any show, especially with the 2012 revival edition that we are doing,” he said. “It’s really energetic and hard not to move to.”

Senior Eli Lucas has a dual role as John the Baptist and Judas, the only other named parts in the cast. He said he likes the range of emotions in the show, which starts out upbeat in the first act, but by the second act and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the mood turns somber. He also enjoyed the dancing, which ranges from tap and jazz to rock and burlesque. “The dancing is so much fun,” Eli said.

Olivia said her dancing improved a lot over the semester, with Mrs. Amy Delaney teaching the choreography, and singing in four-part harmony has strengthened her vocal talents as well. That practice will help when rehearsals for the spring musical begin. “I’ve grown a lot,” she said.

Andrew said that playing the role of Jesus has helped him grow as an actor as well. He initially struggled with how to portray Jesus. “I mean, you’re playing God,” he said.

So many people have a different image of and relationship with Jesus, not only the characters in the show but those in the audience as well, he said. Some see him as a strong figure in their life, while others struggle with their relationship with him. He questioned whether he was genuine or caring enough in his portrayal as well. But he finally found the right mindset.

“I realized you’re never going to be able to please everyone,” he said. “By trying to capture his genuine loving spirit, that will allow people to put their interpretation of Jesus into that character.”
And he believes that the lyrics in the musical will also help the audience understand the true message of the show – and of Jesus.

“It’s another way to get the Gospel message outside of that church environment,” he said. “It’s great for people who might not go to Mass because they can still get that same message.”

Students represent PHS in various activities

Several of our students have represented Providence in different activities over the last month, including those featured below:

Regional program gives students taste of business world
Five students are participating in the Amazing Global Marketplace, a program pairing high school students with mentors from metro Louisville area businesses to encourage their future participation in international careers. The program includes attending regular lessons during BLUE Day sessions and meeting with a local business as a mentor. Last Wednesday, five students taking part in the program — seniors Shawn Fitzpatrick, Jarrett Rowe, Mirashaye Basa and Jack Wagner and junior Mary Short — attended a kickoff event at Bellarmine and took part in a “speed dating” type activity in which they met with each partner business and shared all they had learned about the business. At the end of the activity they learned they were partnered with Samtec, a manufacturing company located in New Albany.

Students participating in the Amazing Global Marketplace program are partnered with local business Samtec

This international business-focused educational program uses simulated international business scenarios. Seniors Ethan Furnish, Brady Gentry, and Casey McCubbins and junior Bryce Drury also are taking part. Participants learn about international travel, negotiation, procurement, management, communication, culture and currency exchange. Our students will learn about their mentor company, Samtec, through shadow opportunities and a tour of the headquarters. They also will research international markets in preparation for the culminating competition in the spring at Bellarmine, where they will be given a real world business problem and compete against other schools from the area.

Mary said she is taking part in the program because she is considering majoring in business in college. She liked the kickoff event because it gave her some insight into the business world. “I enjoyed learning how the real world works,” she said.

Shawn said he signed up because he plans to major in business and is glad for the opportunity to experience a business environment. He liked meeting with business professionals and talking about their companies, even if it was stressful to be prepared to talk to so many at the kickoff event.

“I hope to learn how the business world works and the processes that go into it,” he said. “I want to see if it’s the direction I want to take in life.”

Science students take part in research project

Matthew Reger, left, assists in a Falls of the Ohio research project over Fall Break

Earth/Space class students had an opportunity over fall break to take part in an in-depth study of the ancient flora and fauna at the Falls of the Ohio conducted by Dr. Kate Bulinski, an associate professor of environmental science at Bellarmine University. Juniors Matthew Reger and Jesse Zoeller each spent several hours helping Dr. Bulinski with her paleoecology study.

Matthew and Jesse examined the fossil bed for fossils of sponges and coral. They then determined the fossils’ location with a compass, measured each one and looked for any patterns. Matthew examined more than 100 shells in about three hours, and Jesse studied 50 sheets in about two hours. They said they liked being able to locate different types of fossils and consider their longevity.

“The fossils there were there longer than the dinosaurs,” Jesse said. “It was another fun experience to see how many different kinds of fossils we can find.”

Students portray Halloween characters at Louisville Zoo
Photos of some of our students dressed in Halloween costumes have been showing up on social media, not because they are getting a jump start on the holiday but because they are part of the cast for The World’s Largest Halloween Party at the Louisville Zoo. Each portrays a character in different scenes set up throughout the zoo. Senior Kaleb Dunn is Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, senior Eli Lucas is Spiderman, and senior Mary Claire Natalie plays Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. They interact with children as they walk along the trail through the zoo, commenting on their costumes and posing for pictures.

Mary Claire and Eli said it’s fun when they encounter children dressed up like their characters. Mary Claire will remind them “There’s no place like home,” and Eli said he has fun pretending to sling webs with the fellow Spiderman-costumed characters.

“I like seeing all the little kids,” Mary Claire said. “They get really excited about it, and I feel good about myself because they’re excited to see me.”

Kaleb agrees. “It’s fun to interact with the kids and bring to life a character most of them already knew.”
The students also find they are learning many new characters as they see children dressed up in costumes they aren’t familiar with. They ask the rest of the cast if they know any characters they don’t know so that they can comment on them if they see more of those costumes. Getting to know so many students interested in theatre throughout the area is another bonus, they said, noting that they often ask the children on the route to pass messages to other characters as a way to interact with the children – and have fun with the cast.

“I like the work environment,” Eli said. “I get to work with a lot of experienced actors.”

Mrs. Delaney teaches choreography for winter musical

Students in Musical Theatre Production class are seeing Mrs. Amy Delaney in a new role. They usually see her at the front desk in the Fr. Mike Counseling Center as administrative assistant to the counseling staff. But after school, she works part time at the Louisville Ballet School teaching ballet and choreographing the school’s Spring Showcase. For the last few weeks, she has been working with the Musical Theatre students to choreograph their winter musical, Godspell.

Theresa Bautista ’91 usually choreographs the dance scenes for PHS musicals, but she was unavailable during the school day, so theatre teacher Mrs. Ellen Holifield asked Mrs. Delaney to help out. Mrs. Delaney said she has had a lot of fun working with the students. She has taught them Broadway-type dance moves for four songs in the musical, including a soft-shoe tap number.

Mrs. Amy Delaney, left, teaches the choreography to the cast of Godspell.

“It’s been really nice for me to be a part of it and to do something different than what I normally do,” Mrs. Delaney said. “I love my job, and I enjoy what I’m doing here at PHS, but ballet is my passion, so it’s nice to feed a little bit of that here too.”

She also is pleased with how well the students are learning the choreography, especially those who have never taken dance lessons before.

“They are just a great group of kids,” she said. “They want to learn. They’re determined. They remember everything I teach, which makes it easy.”

Senior Jesse Zoeller, who plays the role of Nick, said having Mrs. Delaney teach the choreography has been fun. “It gives each and every one of us a chance to connect with each other through learning new dance moves,” he said.

Mrs. Holifield said having Mrs. Delaney do the choreography for this show offers a lot of flexibility because she can adapt to special schedules.

“It’s super convenient,” Mrs. Holifield said. “And it’s just really fun seeing her in this capacity. It’s neat to collaborate with her in a completely different way. It’s so fun.”

Fall show tells origin story of Peter Pan

The Providence Players are ready to entertain audiences with the fall show Peter and the Starcatcher, which debuts this weekend. The play is a prequel to the story of Peter Pan and is a playful coming-of-age tale that explores a variety of themes, from friendship and duty to greed and despair. The lead actors are particularly looking forward to entertaining audiences with the storybook theatre-style drama and its larger-than-life characters.

Senior Eli Lucas plays Black Stache (later known as Captain Hook). After playing several dramatic roles, he is happy to be back playing a comedic one, he said.

“It has rejuvenated me for the season, and I love that about this character,” he said.

His character is somewhat complex, and Eli has had to work to find the balance “between his soft side, his harder side, and his flamboyant side – all in two hours,” he said. “It’s been a phenomenal challenge. I love it.”

Black Stache points to the sky as Smee tries to follow his gaze.

Senior Andrew Bittenbender plays Black Stache’s sidekick, Smee, another comedic role. Andrew said one of his favorite things about the role was acting alongside Eli again. He also enjoys how his character may not be very smart, but he still does his best to support Black Stache.

“Smee is silly,” he said. “He gives it his all even though he’s not the brightest guy, and that leads to a lot funny moments.”

Senior Brady Gentry plays Peter and enjoys portraying such a dynamic character, he said. He is a bit like Peter in that he is a child at heart, but the role is still challenging.

Peter and Black Stache battle in “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

“The transition from a lonely, hardened orphan boy to a hero is such a beautiful process,” he said. “The most challenging part of bringing Peter to life is the loneliness aspect of Peter. Peter is homeless, friendless, and nameless at the beginning. I have been blessed with an amazing family, directors, and castmates who will support me and help me become the best performer I can be, which makes the loneliness aspect the most challenging part.”

Senior Mary Claire Natalie plays the part of Molly Aster (who becomes Mrs. Darling). She said she likes her character because she is different from other female leads she has portrayed, who is both sweet and feminine while also being strong and fearless.

Black Stache lets his captive, Molly, go to Peter.

“[She is] a young girl who is independent, ambitious, and brave,” she said. “Throughout the show Molly falls in love and learns to be a leader.”

Senior Austin Bowles plays Lord Aster, Molly’s father. Lord Aster is a much different character than any Austin has played, he said, and it required watching a lot of British television to get his British accent down. But he is happy for one long-term benefit from playing an English gentleman because it has helped him improve his posture since he must stand still with a straight back.

“I have to be prim and proper and hold a stiff face,” he said. “But even though he’s polite, he doesn’t take any insults.”

Eli said that audiences will enjoy how the show covers many emotions, from laughter to tears, in a touching coming-of-age story that “invites audiences to enjoy a night of magic and wonder. After all, to have faith is to have wings – and you may just see a bit of flying in this show.”

Mary Claire said the talent of the tech crew allows the audience to feel the magical quality of the show. And audiences will enjoy being able to “use their imaginations and really feel a part of the show. The show is very heartwarming yet also very funny, which audiences rarely see.”

Students land leads on riverfront stage

Rising seniors Eli Lucas, Andrew Bittenbender and several other students are keeping up their musical theatre skills this summer by being part of the cast of two New Albany RiverStage Productions shows to be performed at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater this weekend.

Eli is cast in Footloose in the role of the Rev. Shaw Moore, father of Ariel Moore, a defiant teenage girl who befriends newcomer Ren McCormack. Other PHS students in Footloose dance chorus include rising senior Grace Kempf and rising juniors Jenna Kaiser and Jesse Zoeller, and recent graduates Riley Quinn ’17 (Lulu Warnick) and Kevin Chrisco ’17. Andrew portrays Dewey Finn in School of Rock, a guitarist who loses his job and poses as a substitute music teacher.

Eli said he enjoys the challenge of playing the antagonist in this musical.

“I’ve always played the more happy-go-lucky characters, and playing a character with a little deeper motivation is a challenge – and I love it,” he said.

His summer has been filled with rehearsals, and he is looking forward to the performance. He also is glad for the chance to once again perform alongside Nick Long ’16 (dance chorus member) and Alex Duffy-Dries ’16, who plays Rev. Moore’s wife, Vi Moore.

“Performing with Alex is a dream,” he said. “I think we’ve cultivated a really great relationship on stage playing husband and wife.”

Being able to hone his skills over the summer will enhance his senior year theatre work. He’ll start the year playing the role of Black Stache (Captain Hook) in the fall show, Peter and the Starcatcher. Show dates for the fall show are Sept. 15-17 and 22-23 in the Ray Day Little Theatre.

He’ll also be busy with college auditions, regional auditions, and local theatre work. He also looks forward to yet-to-be announced the 2018 spring musical and other performance opportunities.

“Performing this rigorous show is preparing me mentally for the upcoming busy season,” he said.

School of Rock also a break from typical
Andrew also is playing a different type of role, which gives him the chance to show a different side of himself, he said.

“I usually play the more reserved characters, the straight guy as opposed to the funny guy,” Andrew said.

“However, in School of Rock I’m getting to let loose a lot more than usual, and it’s been so much fun. What I love about Dewey is his energy and his unapologetic and wild nature. He’s a rock star in his own little world and is so fun to play. He’s unlike any character I’ve played before.”

Andrew is the only Providence student in the cast, although the cast does include several students who were in the cast of this spring’s Deanery musical, Alice Jr. Like Eli, Andrew is grateful for the opportunity to keep acting through the summer.

“This performance is allowing me to practice being a different type of character than usual, which will be really helpful for this upcoming year at PHS theatre-wise,” Andrew said. “It also acts as a bridge from spring musical to fall show, allowing me to continue theatre during this down time, better preparing me for Smee in Peter and the Starcatcher this fall.

Footloose will be performed July 20 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., and School of Rock July 21 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the productions are available at the gate and online for $10.00 (adult) and $5.00 (senior citizens and students through high school).

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