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SPOTLIGHT: Student-driven theatre wins big

Meet the Novi H.S. Theatre One Act

4Frenzy - Novi H.S. Theatre One Act
4Frenzy - Novi H.S. Theatre One Act

Fun Facts

  • Because it is live theater, the One Act has never been performed the same way twice.
  • The three actors on stage during the gunshot sounds were required to wear earplugs and it was quite a production to get them off the stage unnoticed.
  • The behind the scenes support for the students includes not just the directors, but also two dogs and a baby!

4Frenzy spoke with Novi High School’s Theatre which recently placed first in the Division I competition with their One Act production. The show was a part of the MIFA One Act Festival, an annual competition of high school theatre departments throughout the state. This is their first time winning the title!

They produced Mother Hicks by Suzan Zeder, a story that takes place in southern Illinois in 1935. The setting is a small town in which three people, all very different, are outcasts and find a place together.

“It was quite the thrill,” said Novi Theatre Director, Heather McKaig. She went on to tell us that the show also garnered individual awards, which she says was no surprise to her. “This group of kids has worked so hard, both on and off stage. They are so much fun to work with and watch do their thing.”

She told us that it is a student-driven program, so the students design everything, bring those designs to life, direct, and act. One student actor, Lucy Koukoudian, said that McKaig and the two associate/technical directors, Kaity Gray and Mike Heikkila always support and motivate the students to be the best they can be. Said Lucy, “they allow us to learn from our mistakes and grow.”

4Frenzy - Novi H.S. theatre directors (from left: Mike Heikkila, Kaity Gray, Heather McKaig)
4Frenzy - Novi H.S. theatre directors (from left: Mike Heikkila, Kaity Gray, Heather McKaig) (WDIV)

The set for Mother Hicks was designed by student Allison Blankenship and won three “superior” awards, one at each level in the competition. The same student’s set for another play called The Actor’s Nightmare also won three superior awards, one at State Thespian and two in competition. Allison has designed sets for six of the high school’s shows, and is an obvious example of the talent and hard work of the students which director McKaig enthused about.

More than meets the eye

What lots of people may not think about is that there are many roles when it comes to theatre, and not just acting roles. So if you’re interested in joining it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be on stage. Cora Large, a senior in the One Act crew, got involved in theatre her freshman year but joined her sophomore year as part of the construction and running crew.

Allison Blankenship, Student Technical Director, advised you start as soon as you can. “I wish I had done it my freshman year, I just didn’t know it was happening. Try as many things with theatre as you can, there’s so much more to it than being an actor on stage.”

If you’re thinking about theatre, Lucy says to just go for it. She thinks she wouldn’t have been able to learn how to create and be expressive in such a way, had she not started doing shows.

4Frenzy - Novi H.S. theatre student team
4Frenzy - Novi H.S. theatre student team (WDIV)

One of the play’s actors, Anthony Martin, says that although his main goal isn’t necessarily to pursue acting as a career, he plans to always stay involved in any capacity he can with theatre. He also expressed that his favorite extracurricular activity is theater, no matter how many other clubs he’s tried. “I always came back to theater. It was my home away from home and I have grown and learned so much from these people and environment, I couldn’t trade it for anything.”

Allison is also seriously considering pursuing a theatre degree. If she does, her dream would be to eventually design sets for new productions and to take them all the way to Broadway. Like Anthony, she’d tried playing a few sports, and while she liked those too, she found theatre to be her favorite.

Cora Large is in the Philharmonic orchestra, plays solo violin, and was a Novi diver for four years. Yet she, too, loves theatre so much that she wants to major in Stage Management in college, and eventually make a career out of being in a theater.


4Frenzy

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We would like to thank our sponsor Ralph Jr. Wilson Foundation’s Project Play for their support!


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