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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

LCS students' performance supports Christian Needs

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

(Sentinel photo by Amy Erickson) Yashila Permeswaran (Peter Pan), left center, helps warm Caitlin Manley (Tinker Bell) while Travis Barrett, left, and Josh Sluiter, right, and Rebecca Luksan (Wendy), far right, look on during "A Christmas Peter Pan." The play was performed last week by members of the LCHS Thespians Club for LCS students. High schoolers paid to attend the play, with donations going to the Christian Needs Center, in Le Mars.
Peter Pan and his friends saved Santa Claus from the clutches of Captain Hook just in time for Christmas.

Members of the Le Mars Community High School Thespians Club performed "A Christmas Peter Pan" for students last week.

Thespians is a school club for students who have participated in contest speech and/or drama activities. Currently the club has 40 members.

Ally Mullally (Barbie), left, Katy Price (bird), Andrew Heffner (monkey) and Miranda Ritts (robot) are lost toys because there aren't any children to own them during the LCHS Thespians' play "A Christmas Peter Pan."
Thirty-one of those high school students became the cast, which included favorite characters such as Wendy, Tinker Bell and Santa Claus.

Students giggled, clapped and grinned at the antics of Peter Pan, his friends, some lost toys, a few elves and a couple pirates during one of two elementary performances last week.

The action wasn't only on the stage, audience members were asked to participate.

Yashila Permeswaran (Peter Pan) tries to escape from the clutches of Matt Strub (Captain Hook) and Blake Wendt (pirate) during "A Christmas Peter Pan" at Le Mars Community High School last week.
For example, audience members helped scare Captain Hook by chanting "Tick Tock," reminding the villain of the crocodile that bit his hand leaving him with a hook.

Thespians' members such as Rebecca Luksan and Yashila Permeswaran said the younger children's delight is one of the best parts of the play.

"All the performances, everyone just loves them," Luksan said.

The Thespians play isn't only about entertainment -- it's also a way to raise money for the Christian Needs Center, a clothing and food pantry, in Le Mars.

High school students who attended the play paid $1 each, all of which is donated to the center.

Permeswaran, who played Peter Pan, said she thinks the play is a great way to give back to the community.

"First we get to entertain these little kids. At the same time we're helping people in need through the high school," she said. "It's a really nice way to help out."

LCHS Student Council matches every dollar collected from high schoolers who attend the play, said Mark Iverson, assistant high school principal.

Erin Ohrlund, Thespians club sponsor and play director, said about 500 high schoolers signed up to attend last week's performance.

"In our town we don't have a lot of organizations that do this kind of outreach," she said. "I'm glad to throw our support to the Christian Needs Center."

The Thespians do not collect any of the money, Ohrlund said.

"In fact, we donate the cost of the play and our materials, as well as our time to perform," she said.

Ohrlund said the Thespians have been performing a Children's Theatre play for LCS students each year before Christmas break for more than 15 years.

"Children's Theatre is a play that was written to be performed specifically for children," Ohrlund explained.

She noted those plays are often performed by children, too.

"The performance provides a good opportunity for the elementary students to have a pleasant distraction on a day that is full of the anticipation of Christmas," Ohrlund said. "The performance gives the older kids the same opportunity."

Luksan, who played Wendy in last week's production, said it was her first "big part" in a Children's Theatre play.

"I loved it. It was just a little stressful getting all the lines," Luksan said. "It was a lot of fun."

In addition to donating to the Christian Needs Center and entertainment, Ohrlund considers the Thespians Christmas play a learning experience.

She said students come together as a cast quickly, noting they rehearse at 9 p.m. after speech and athletics are done.

"They learn how to adapt each performance to widely different audience members," Ohrlund said. "They learn to memorize lines quickly and improvise adroitly when things don't go as planned."

The ability to adapt and ad-lib was realized during one performance when Santa Claus couldn't find Rudolph's red nose.

Santa Claus smoothly added a few lines that weren't part of the script to keep the scene going.

Permeswaran said Thespians' members sign up if they want to participate in the play -- something she loves to do.

"I remember when I was a young child. I always loved watching these things," she said. "I wanted to be part of a group that makes kids happy."

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