Elmbrook summer school introduces new theatre program

Stephanie Chen, Editor In-Chief

Black curtains part. A girl lies on the ground, head on a pillow, book in her hand. This is the opening scene to Fair Exchange, the Elmbrook School District’s first Summer Theater Program.

Dan Pronley, the play’s director, first began planning for the program at the start of the previous school year. “Last summer, I was very distraught as I watched our Elmbrook students go volunteer or enroll in other district theater programs — and Elmbrook had nothing to offer,” says Pronley.

With the help of Mrs. Schiro, he campaigned for the district’s own summer theater program and was met with success, eventually selecting a 1960s comedy — Fair Exchange — as the production piece.

Fair Exchange is centered around a student exchange program gone wrong. School board member Agnes Franklin, played by Abby Fuchs(‘19), sets up an exchange program between Wickapogue High School in New York and an Ohio high school in which the male senior honor students switch spots for the Spring Prom. They are then to escort the female senior honor students of each school to their respective prom. Unbeknownst to those in New York, a criminal impersonates Ched Armstrong (Vaughn Goehrig(‘19)) and ends up using Wickapoque honor student Peggy Wilson (Olivia Kroeplin(‘20)) as a hostage. It is Peggy’s younger sister, Diana Wilson (Sailor Ames(‘22)), who puts to pieces together to unmask Ched’s true identity.

The program was primarily run by students, involving around forty-four students from five different schools. Students were in charge of building the set, designing costumes, working with lighting and sound, helping with hair and makeup, creating props, teaching and leading dance practices, and mentoring other students. “This monumental production was embraced thoroughly by the students, and almost everyone stepped in with 110% effort,” Pronley observes. He adds that everyone involved brought only positive energy to rehearsals.

For Astrid Merritt (‘20), the summer program was a very enjoyable experience. Merritt served as the sound manager for the production. She has worked with sound for Brookfield Central productions over the course of the previous school year. As sound manager, Merritt was charged with controlling the audio effects and background music during the show. She deems the program a success and recommends the experience to other students. “It was fun getting to know everyone on the cast and crew,” says Merritt. She plans on participating again next summer.

Pronley reflects on the success of the program, saying, “I have enjoyed working closely with these kids [for eight] weeks and sincerely hope I can work with them again in the future. It has a been a joy!”. Plans are already being set in motion for next year’s program — a musical.

Diana Wilson

Sailor Ames

Helen Wilson

Briana Ratay

Carol Stellar

Sadie Michalski

Agnes Franklin

Abby Fuchs

Peggy Wilson

Olivia Kroeplin

Ginny Martin

Brinna Rasmussen

Steve Haviland

Nishant Namboothiry

Larry Munger

Will Purnell

Kay McCarthy

Caitlin Elenteny

Ched Armstrong

Vaughn Goehrig