SMNW Thespian Troupe Finishes Year with Virtual Performances

SMNW Lab Play
Shawnee Mission School District

Performing Arts students at SM Northwest presented two virtual performances that closed the curtain on their performance season.

The productions were shared this spring via YouTube.

“Stranded: A View from Quarantine,” had its premiere produced with special arrangements from Stage Partners, Inc. The story took place in March of 2020, where passengers aboard a cruise ship were caught unaware when they discovered they couldn't disembark from their intended glorious vacation when their ship became quarantined due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The show includes stories of the people aboard the cruise ship. You may view the show on YouTube here.

An entirely student written, directed, and produced spring lab play, “Another Angsty Teen” also premiered. A content advisory is included in the video because it includes mature subject matter and language, including suicide and domestic violence.  This play was part of senior Alice Newell’s Gold Star project for Girl Scouts. Viewers were encouraged to complete a post-viewing survey that was a vital part of the project. You may view the show here.

Jason Coats, performing arts teacher, commented about several unexpected positive learning outcomes among students, including interpersonal and technical skills.  He shared the example about developing rehearsal and filming schedules is normally a dictated element of theatre, handed to students by the director. 

“In this case, though, especially with student directors, our current situation required us to employ flexibility, creativity, communication, and empathy in a situation that would otherwise be generally straightforward,” Coats noted.  

Technically, recording individual parts and then stitching them together involves a skill set usually reserved for video production classes. “We were fortunate to have several students with those skills,” Coats explained.

The requirement that each actor always appear in their individual frame from their own home really introduced some challenges that required students to flex their design, performance, and engineering muscles all at once. “These experiences, while less than ideal, really did afford an opportunity for integration of all the facets of learning that we don’t always see in the traditional school setting,” Coats said.

As the school year concluded, Coats shared advice with the student performers, noting that It is a sad reality that most opportunities for young actors, singers, and dancers have been eliminated this summer. 

“’Learn by doing’ is always a great mantra, but very few theatres are still offering their seasons. Indeed, many classes and camps have even been canceled,” Coats shared. “But this is where judicious use of social media can be helpful.”

Coats encourages his students to watch and study the greats and the people you admire. “Try it out yourself and give that song a go, do that dance. Whether you post it or not is entirely up to you. Surround yourself with the art you love!”

The annual Shawnee Mission Northwest Thespian Banquet was also hosted virtually to recognize this year’s honorees.

Shawnee Mission Northwest Theatre – Thespian Troupe #888
2019-20 Honors and Awards

White Booster Award
Voted on by the Thespian Officer Board to recognize a parent member of the Theatre Booster Club whose contributions have been vital to the success of the program
Lael Holloway

Producer’s Circle Award
Recognizes non-student contributions who enhanced our production work
Steve Sanders & Chris Pauli

Gypsy Robe Recipients
This is an award handed from one student to another in mainstage productions to recognize their acting contributions

Fall: Alice Newell
Winter: Kate River & Claire Severance
Spring: Claire Anderson

Golden Hammer Award
This is an award handed from one student to another in mainstage productions to recognize their technical contributions

Fall: Zach Dulny
Winter: Parker Baughman & Alison Snawerdt
Spring: Olivia Williamson

Musical Award Recipients
The awards recognize contributions in dance/choreography and orchestral musicianship for the musical

Ruby Slippers: Jackson Tomlin
Silver Baton: Chelsey Lee & Hanna Smith

Competition Winners

Zach Dulny: Superior IE Rating at State Thespian Conference—Lighting Design
Zach Dulny: 2nd Place, JoCo Rising Star Scholarship Program—Technical Design
Alice Newell: SMNW Representative, ESU Shakespeare Competition

(At the time of the awards ceremony, 2020 Starlight Blue Star nominations and winners had not yet been announced)

Outstanding Dancers (Ensemble)
Maria Berardo
Riley Gunter
Cat Sanders
Kari Pauley

Outstanding Dancers (Solo Performance)
Jackson Tomlin
Claire Severance
Meg Freeman

Outstanding Vocal Performance (Ensemble)
Cat Sanders for “Beautiful Girls”
Kari Pauli for “All I Do is Dream of You”
Anne Borberg for “You Stepped Out of a Dream”
Noah Seidner for “You Stepped Out of a Dream”
Nathan McManness for “You Stepped Out of a Dream”

Outstanding Vocal Performance (Soloist)
Jackson Tomlin for “Singin’ in the Rain”
Kate Rivera for “What’s Wrong with Me”
Claire Severance for “Would You”
Jayce Lamb for “Make ‘Em Laugh”

Outstanding Crewheads
Natalie Hole: Publicity
Francis Cooper: Ass’t Technical Director
Olivia Williamson: Ass’t Technical Director
Caleb Anderson: Props
Alison Snawerdt: Props
Zach Dulny: Lights
Lily Cox: Costumes
Sarah Sullivan: Costumes

Outstanding Technical Contributions
Matthew Kucharzyk: Lighting
Katelyn Doering: Lighting
Jacob Parker: Ass’t Stage Management
Sydney Elpers: Costumes

“Top Techies”
These student crew members are recognized for their contributions and dedication from all tech work calls.
Xavier Williamson
Savannah Miner
Sophia Mendus
Jacob Parker
Layla Harris
Ashley Bonewits
Cat Sanders
Nic Rodgers
Thomas Johnston
Fawn Torres

Best Actor & Actress in a Lab Play
Asher Demo as “Alex” in ANOTHER ANGSTY TEEN
Natalie Hole as “Eva” in ANOTHER ANGSTY TEEN

Best Actor & Actress in a Character Role
Nathan McManness as “Sid” in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Tajanai Adams as “Dora Bailey” in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

Best Actor & Actress in a Supporting Role
Jayce Lamb as “Cosmo Brown” in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Kate Rivera as “Lina Lamont” in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

Best Actor & Actress in a Lead Role
Josh Holloway as “Col. Mustard” in CLUE: ON STAGE
Claire Anderson as “Julia” in 1984 & “Mom” in STRANDED

Outstanding Stage Manager
Parker Baughman

Outstanding Student Director
Alice Newell

Outstanding Contributions in Repertory Theatre
Claire Severance: Acting in COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED)
Francis Cooper: Writing in COUGAR SHORT CUTS
Jacob Parker: Acting in U:BUG:ME

Best Freshman
Savannah Miner

Best Newcomer
Abby Marx

Director’s Award
This award is for special recognition by the Troupe Sponsor for unique contributions. These students all contributed in ways exceeding expectations to keep our program active during the school closure.
Grace Allen
Alyssa Kempf
Claire Laws
Michael Fitzgerald
Erin Albers

Senior Acting Achievement Award
This award recognizes a senior for their commitment to excellence in on-stage performance over their entire high school career.
Alice Newell


Senior Technical Achievement Award
This award recognizes a senior for their commitment to excellence in technical design over their entire high school career.
Zach Dulny
Parker Baughman

Greg Parker Memorial Achievement Award
This award is one of the highest honors a student at SMNW can receive. It is voted on by their peers in recognition for their skill, leadership, and teamwork during their entire high school career. It is named in honor of SMNW Theatre’s first theatre director.
Zach Dulny

New Thespians
These students earned 20 points and will be inducted as official members of Troupe 888.
Anne Borberg
Grace Allen
Nic Rodgers
Morgan Tate
Ashley Bonewits
Layla Harris
Lily Jones
Alyssa Kempf
Savannah Miner
Xavier Williamson

Lettering Thespians
To letter in theatre, students must have made significant contributions to productions across all three seasons.
Katelyn Doering
Thomas Johnston
Jayce Lamb
Claire Severance
Alyssa Kempf
Grace Allen
Alison Snawerdt
Alice Newell
Xavier Williamson
Ashley Bonewits
Jacob Parker
Drew Jaime
Jazmin Brice
Ally Banks
Morgan Tate
Savannah Miner
Matthew Kucharczyk
Sophia Mendus
Natalie Hole
Zach Dulny
Olivia Williamson
Parker Baughman

2020-21 Thespian Officer Board
Olivia Williamson: President
Jacob Parker: Vice-President
Savannah Miner – Secretary
Anna Holloway – Treasurer
Lillian Bowen – Publicist
Jayce Lamb – Points Clerk
Sophia Mendus – Stage Manager