Cruiser Theatre actors selected for state conference

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 Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
 NICK PARKER AND SARA JOHNSON

Groveport Madison High School seniors and Cruiser Theatre Co. members Nick Parker and Sara Johnson have been selected to perform at the 2008 Ohio Educational Theatre Association State Conference.

Student thespians Nick Parker and Sara Johnson were selected to the cast of this year’s All-Ohio Show. They will join fellow thespians from across Ohio to perform "Dead Man Walking," the gripping play about nun’s friendship with a condemned killer in a Texas prison. The All-Ohio will kick-off the 2008 State Conference of the Ohio Educational Association in April.

Sara Johnson

"I’m excited," said Johnson. "’Dead Man Walking’ is a serious drama that will give me the chance to explore a character in depth. I’m also excited because our fall play, ‘Our Miss Brooks,’ was also selected to be performed at the conference, which means I get to be part of two shows."

Johnson said being selected for the All-Ohio Show also will give her the opportunity to "meet new people and a lot of great actors from around the state. We can learn from each other and share experiences."

Johnson, who plans to attend Ohio State University-Newark next fall and major in performing arts, said she feels like the theater is her "second home."

She was first inspired to act as a youngster watching other young actors on television. But it was in eighth grade that she got the theater bug.

"When I was in eighth grade I saw the high school production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ and I said to myself, ‘I have to do this!" said Johnson.

Johnson said she enjoys performing comedy, especially when it involves wordplay, but she also likes the physical skill that comedy requires, such as a well timed double take.

Johnson said, "I also love musicals, too, because they combine singing and dancing. Since I’m also a cheerleader and in the choir I like to dance and sing. Musicals allow me to do both."

She said her favorite play that she has performed in thus far has been "Our Miss Brooks" because, "I got to play a character who is really snotty. It enabled me to be totally outside of myself. It was fun to play."

Her all time favorite play is the rollicking "42nd Street."

"It’s a great show with amazing sets, costumes, and songs," said Johnson.

But above all, Johnson said opening night is the most exciting part of being an actor.

"You do all this work, you prepare, study lines, rehearse and then here comes opening night with everyone here to watch," said Johnson. "It’s a rush."

Nick Parker

Like Johnson, Parker’s interest in the theater grew from seeing the high school’s performance of "Guys and Dolls" when he was in eighth grade.

"I also saw a production of ‘1776’ at Otterbein when I was a kid and that also helped fuel my interest," said Parker.

Parker considers himself a character actor and feels his strengths are in drama and comedy.

"I like to do whatever challenges me," said Parker, who plans to attend West Virginia University in the fall and major in either political science or physics with a minor in theater.

He said his favorite role was that of "Ted" in "Our Miss Brooks."

"I liked taking bland lines and making them into something comedic," said Parker of the role.

Parker finds Neil Simon’s play "Fools" an impressive piece of writing.

"I really like Neil Simon’s comedy," said Parker. "The lines come at you bam, bam, bam. It’s perfectly paced."

He said he likes acting because he enjoys being able to "go into a play and become something different from what you are. You get to experience the thoughts and emotions of a character and see what they go through."

Parker is thrilled to be selected to the All-Ohio Show production of "Dead Man Walking" where he’ll play the father of the murder victim.

"It’s a good show and we’re lucky to be able to put it on, it’s a unique opportunity," said Parker.

He noted that those who hold the rights to the play require schools seeking to perform "Dead Man Walking" to tie portions of their curriculum in English and social studies to the production. He said Ashland University, in conjunction with the All-Ohio performance, is fulfilling this requirement which allows the conference to stage the play.

"I’m excited to be selected for All-Ohio," said Parker, who is also an Educational Theater Association state student officer (SSO). "It’s the first time they’ve selected an SSO for the production in 10 years. They normally don’t."

Cruiser Theatre Co. also selected

The Groveport Madison High School fall play, "Our Miss Brooks," was selected as a "Featured Full-Length" production at the 2008 Ohio Educational Theatre Association State Conference.  

This honor is accorded to nine high schools from across the state in a selection process based on reviewers’ critiques of shows done at local sites. Those chosen for "Featured Full-Length" must then transport complete sets, props, costumes, effects, etc. to Ashland University the first week-end in April where the show is re-mounted for a segment of the 2,200 plus theatre students who attend the State Conference.  This the third time in six years the Cruiser Theatre Co. has received this honor.

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