Shawnee Dispatch

SMNW debuts play

Julia Stanislav, Cassie Jones and Luke Meyer rehearse lines for Shawnee Mission Northwest’s spring play “Leaving Iowa.” The play opens at 7 p.m. Thursday. Enlarge photo

April 28, 2010

With only three and a half weeks to prepare for their spring play, the students at Shawnee Mission Northwest are kicking into high gear.

The theater department debuts the comedy “Leaving Iowa” at 7 p.m. Thursday after less than a month of rehearsals.

Director Keli Rodgers said the minimalist set and costume changes allow for the fast-track preparation.

“With little set and easy costumes, it was easy to rehearse,” she said. “There are a good number of parts, which is something I’m always looking for.”

The compressed rehearsal time came about because Rodgers wanted to include the school’s spring musical “Big River” into consideration for the Starlight Blue Star Awards.

“We had to rearrange our schedule to accommodate entering that play to consideration,” Rodgers said.

Auditions and a read through for “Leaving Iowa” were done about eight weeks ago, then the attention was turned toward “Big River”, she said.

“Leaving Iowa” tells the story of a writer returning home to Iowa for his nephew’s christening. While at home the writer realizes the family has not followed through on his father’s final wish – to have his ashes scattered at the farm where he grew up.

The ensuing journey takes the main character, Don, back to memories of family vacations across the state.

“It’s a cute and funny show,” Rodgers said. “Families and people of all ages will identify with the story. Kids and adults will find it relatable at both ends.”

Rodgers said the smaller parts in the play allowed for students to take on more than one role.

Kelsie Taylor, junior, did just that in playing three characters.

“Two of my roles are smaller,” Kelsie said. “It was a little difficult when rehearsing to make sure I give them each different personalities, so it doesn’t look like the same person.”

While Kelsie admits the characters could be a more developed with another week of rehearsals, she hopes the show will still be a hit with families.

“It’s a pretty contemporary show,” she said. “There are things that everyone can relate to in it. It has the classic ‘are we there yet’ moments from any vacation.”

“Leaving Iowa” plays at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Shawnee Mission Northwest. Tickets are $7 or $3 with a SMNW activity pass.

Originally published at: