The 2016 Kearney High Theater Department performed the first play in Kearney High School’s new Concert Hall and Theater. The play chosen was an adaptation of F. School Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby that was arranged by Simon Levy. This was the chosen play by new director Kari Vyhlidal because it is a popular play with intentions to bring in a crowd so that they received the opportunity to see the new Concert Hall and Theater. Vyhlidal was able to capture the vibrant, glamorous way of life in New York in the 1920’s, along with the tragic love story between the characters with the generosity of some people.
Even with the tricky time restraints felt by both cast and director, the Kearney High Theater Department was able to produce a “very successful production” according to Vyhlidal. With the assistance from Sampson Construction Company, and Vhylidals good friend Davis Goodwin, from R8 Productions.
Sampson Construction Company helped out in this years production by assisting with the construction of stage props. The Sampson Construction Company helped build the frame of the famous staircase that Jay Gatsby hangs out on, and the hanging wall in the back of the set.
R8 productions and Davis Goodwin was generous enough to donate his time and allow the KHS Theater Department to borrow his technology for this production. All of the lighting design seen in the production was by Davis. “It was a big blessing for him to do the lighting for us,” according to Vhylidal, “It allowed the public to see what we can do in this space.”
Even with the limited stage time, Vhylidal states that she still believes that it was a “very successful production”. “I am proud of the kids and how they did on the stage with the limited time we had.”
Some of the students who participated in the production of “The Great Gatsby” started their acting career as early as children with Kearney Community Theater (KTC).
Take Junior Addison Parr for example. She started acting in third grade. This year Parr played the role of Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan’s (Senior Connor Garrison) wife. When others were fretting about time, Parr was performing with few people she had worked with before, and who had different acting styles than what she was use to. “That pushed me to adapt” stated Parr. “Daisy is such an interesting character. I love how soft she is to the world. She was realistic and relatable.” One of Daisy’s favorite lines for Parr was “all of life’s precious things fade so fast.”
“Anyways, he throws large parties, and I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there just isn’t any privacy.” Junior Masie Dulitz was the voice behind this quote that is from the play. Dulitz is another actor who started out it KCT like Parr. Dulitz played the role of Jordan Baker, “I loved her spunky personality and how low key she was with her sass.” Dulitz stated “I struggled connecting with the sultry side to Jordan and it took a lot of hard work to feel comfortable with that,” but many people who went to the show state that they loved how Dulitz played her character.
However, to participate in a Kearney High play you did not have to start acting in the third grade like Parr and Dulitz did. Senior Tony Koetters, otherwise known at Mr. Jay Gatsby, started performing when he was in sixth grade. This was a different experience for Koetters, because he normally participates in the musicals rather than the plays. However, for this particular show Koetters states that a lot of aspects were similar to musicals with the choreography for the Gatsby parties. Koetters said his reasoning for participating in this show was because “I loved the book, and I was excited about being able to portray this amazing character. It was truly an opportunity of a lifetime.” One of the biggest challenges Koetters found while playing his character was “Finding out how they react to any situation. When a line is delivered, or something happens on stage, you need to know how your character will react.” However this was not specifically towards his character, according to Koetters, it is the “most difficult part of playing all characters.” Something that Koetters can take as a memory from this play is the quote he said, “It’s prohibition old sport, nobody cares.”
All of these actors agreed that this years production was a long, stressful rollercoaster, but that everyone pulled through to create a very successful and amazing production. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Koetters.