Humor, drama return to school stage

Students grateful for chance to perform play written by their director

CEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM High School’s spring play includes a varsity cast (top photo) and a junior varsity cast (above) that acts as understudies who can fill in if any varsity members get sick. Performances of “Downings Manor” written by co-director Dave Claerbaut will be Friday and Saturday. Each cast member has four tickets, and the play will be put on the school’s YouTube channel. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Fall and spring plays that have become tradition at Cedar Grove-Belgium High School are a little more meaningful this year.

The fall play wasn’t held due to the Covid-19 pandemic after last spring’s production was rehearsed and performed via Zoom.

This week, students return to stage a production in person and online, and it’s a special experience, especially for the seniors and one of the directors.

“It’s very big. It’s nice to be back up on stage,” senior Matthew Corgiat said.

“It’s important we got one last big performance,” senior Kennedy Schoeder said.

“We missed it for sure,” senior Allison Schreurs said.

Co-director Dave Claerbaut said he had trouble finding a suitable play so he used one he wrote a while ago. “Downings Manor” tells the story of a mansion where the mob did “business” for years. The mansion’s owner died and his two young adult children still owe money on the property, so they rent it to eclectic strangers. A corrupt banker wants to foreclose, two crime families are looking for an expensive item hidden in the house and a couple of love stories develop.

“It’s really weird,” Claerbaut said of watching students act out his own play.

Senior Lydia Lavey said it is fun to perform a play written by someone students have known for years.

That, actors said, made developing their characters an easier process. They didn’t have to imagine what a playwright who is either dead or not accessible wanted out of a part; they could ask the director standing several feet away in the auditorium.

“He had a vision when writing it,” Corgiat said.

The play, senior Wesley Reichle said, is a “direct reflection” of Claerbaut’s sense of humor, which is one of the cast’s favorite elements.

Lavey describes Claerbaut’s style as “playful and childish.”

Schoeder said he focuses more on the funny parts than other plays do.

One new challenge, even for veteran performers, is acting while wearing masks.

“You need to talk louder,” senior Jeffrey Vrubley said.

The cast will be wearing clear masks to help show their expressions.

“Acting is half facial features,” Reichle said.

“You have to have more stage presence,” Corgiat said.

Senior Jonah Heisler said he has to rely on using his hands more often than his face to express his character’s emotions.

For most seniors, this isn’t their first production. They keep coming back because they like Claerbaut and co-director Mary Beth Desens, who are both high school teachers, and the camaraderie among the cast. Even students who don’t necessarily get along outside the play “all come together on stage,” Schoeder said.

The seniors said they are thankful Principal Josh Ketterhagen advocated for performing a play.

“It’s nice to have somebody who cares about the arts,” Lavey said.

“We get our last play and I’m thankful for that,” Heisler said.

Students aren’t the only ones. Although it’s hours of work and pressure, the directors are thrilled to be back.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed this until we got back into it,” Desens said.

The play has two casts, a varsity one of juniors and seniors and a junior varsity of freshmen and sophomores that act as understudies. Claerbaut said that creates a fail safe in case the varsity actors get the coronavirus.

The varsity cast will perform at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The junior varsity will perform at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are available through the actors, who each were given four. Admission is $5.

Since Claerbaut wrote the play, copyright isn’t an issue. The play will be available on the district’s YouTube channel, CGB Rockets.

The varsity cast includes Wesley Reichele, Kennedy Schoeder, Mckenna Bretz, Lydia Lavey, Allison Schruers, Jonah Heisler, Maria Hernandez, Lila Weyker, Logan Depies, Cole Ketterhagen, Matt Corgiat, Ellie Dirkse, Jeffrey Vrubley, Hailei Paulus, Clare Jaworski, Jonny Berndt, Laura Jerabek, Luis Gonzalez, Brooke Braga, Jocelyn Wieberdink and Jenna Plier.

The junior varsity cast includes Ryan Fleuchaus, Jenna Emperly, Sammy Berendt, Izzy Kern, Hannah Maxfield, Aidan Mellesmoen, Allie Jaworski, Maya Claerbaut, Rosie Klemm, Danika Schoeder, Calin Bretz, Jaci Rose, Cade Ingelse, Layla Schultz, Chloe Burns, Nathan Wester, Amanda Lutzke, Aspen Jens, Alan Celedon, Paige Guiliano, Kezra Ledbetter and Hannah Navis.



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