Huge high-school cast blends tragedy, parody in weekend performances
At least a few Cedar Grove-Belgium High School students cite working with classmates as their favorite part of acting, and this year they’re having more fun than ever.
“Game of Tiaras” has the largest cast and crew since English teacher Rose Janke took over the drama program eight years ago, and it’s not even close. More than 50 students are involved, Janke said, shattering last year’s then-largest group of about 20.
The cast’s girth isn’t lost on the actors.
“It’s a little crowded backstage,” said junior James Riesselmann, who plays the king.
“It’s cool to get more people involved. It’s also more stressful,” said junior Amanda Niebauer, who plays Cinderella.
Work began on the “King Lear” meets “Game of Thrones” with Disney characters in October. This week was crunch time as performances are Friday and Saturday.
“It’s a lot of cramming,” said senior Ally Lesar, who plays Belle.
The plot calls for Riesselmann, as an aging king, to split his empire between his three daughters, Cinderella, Belle and the Snow Queen.
“I resign from my position, basically, and just wander the countryside,” Riesselmann said.
But all doesn’t go exactly to plan. Instead of being satisfied with their fair share, each daughter raises her own army to fight over the kingdom.
“There’s so much happening on stage it is like a war scene,” Lesar said.
Belle doesn’t tell the king she loves him enough, only “a decent amount,” Lesar said, and thus gets banished. The king, in his wandering, asks to reside with one of his daughters.
“He wants to stay at my castle and I kick him out,” Niebauer said. “I’m just in it for the kingdom.”
The king has other issues. Riesselmann makes clear the differences between his character and his own personality.
“In the play,” he said, “I’m insecure about my feelings. I’m going through a midlife crisis.”
Hilarity ensues as the plot twists of “Game of Thrones” combines with the despair of a Shakespearean tragedy.
“It’s really funny,” Niebauer said.
Rose and co-director Dave Claerbaut are thrilled to get more students involved, but it comes at a price. While many students made their own costumes, more people means more copies of scripts and more equipment. Admission is $5 at the door, but Janke and Claerbaut request donations beyond that to help defray production costs.
“Game of Tiaras” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School Auditorium. Admission is $5.
THE BIGGEST CAST and crew in the history of Cedar Grove-Belgium High School’s drama program will perform “Game of Tiaras” Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the middle school auditorium. Admission is $5 and directors are hoping for more in-kind donations for the theater program. The cast includes, (front row from left) Jack Beckmann, Jamie Prinsen, Sophia Larson, Alex Weiland, Allison Niebauer, Andrew Reichert, Anna Kiskunas, Halle Schoeder, Brittany Simmelink, Ashley Navis, Miranda Lukens, Jacy Zajak, David Morales (second row) Sarah Skorik, Christa Duenk, Adrianna Theile, Mackenzie Amore, Brianna Amore, Abigail Lavey, Ashley Washak, Ally Lesar, Brooke Tharp, Grace Voskuil, Jaden Schueller, Amanda Niebauer, Molly Dirkse, Caleb Sells, Elliot Depies (third row) Maddison Schreurs, Morgan Navis, Robbie Tharp, Megan Zaczyk, Jenny Claerbaut, Sami Weiland, Natalie Brey, Madeline Brey, Jake Mueller, Noah Radant, Anna Sauer, Maggie Turchinski, Emilie Gruell, Jacob Ferber, James Riesselmann, Rebecca Plier and Jesse Davis. Photo by Sam Arendt