By Anne Homan
In the early days of September, a Lennox High School theater performance was brewing. LHS drama director, Christi Sayler, had read through multiple synopses before deciding on just the right one — “Murder on the 518”.
One of her main criteria when selecting a play is to make sure there are a large number of roles as the Fall performance and the One Acts are the only drama opportunities for LHS students.
“I want to give as many students the opportunity as we can for the fall show,” said Sayler. “One thing you will have to do in life is talk in front of people, what better place than on the stage.”
The stage is a familiar place for Sayler who has been involved with theater, in one way or another, since she was a small child. Sayler’s dad was in community theater and she found herself on the stage at the age of eight, in some dance roles. She developed a love for the technical side of theater in college and met her husband, Ethan, while being a part of the drama productions there.
Her own family continued their love of theater as they all took part in the community theater when they lived in Iowa, where Sayler served as director. When the family moved to Lennox, Sayler began to miss theater life. When the opportunity arose four years ago at Lennox High School to take over the One Act plays, Sayler jumped at the chance. And one year later, Sayler was able to take over as Drama director as well.
“I really wanted to keep a strong program here,” said Sayler. “Something my kids could be part of.”
Sayler currently has two sons involved with the plays at LHS. Noah, a sophomore, has been on stage since the age of three, and Isaiah, an eighth grader, since the age of four.
Both Noah and Isaiah are a part of this year’s production which will feature 32 kids among both the cast and crew. A complete list of those in the fall drama production includes Pierce Brue, Charlee Jorgensen, Carter Dose, Nate Collette, Zander Hazuka, Alek Kilene, Emersen Lee, EmilyRose Harrington, Pierce Temme, Noah Sayler, Neveah Voeltz, Lilly Sanchez, Katherine Loewe, Lizzy Rieck, Miriam Welch, Kayden Huffman, Valicity VanBriesen, Reanna Decker, Olivia Dohlmann, Naomi Baumgarn, Ashley Bondesen, CeCe Weiers, Claire Arens, Isaiah Sayler, Madix Havard, Maddigan VanSickle, Liz Hanisch, Jensen Hoefert, Graycee Postma, Tyler Strasser, Jacob Carlson, and Brock Barrett.
Sayler is excited about the large number of participants and loves to see how each of them blossom on stage.
“Seeing the kids try parts out of their comfort zone and really make it their own it’s very rewarding… I love how they had their own nuances,” Sayler added.
This year’s production, “Murder On The 518” was written by Michelle Giles and produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service out of Denver, Colorado. The play follows a group of red-eye travelers on the 518 who witness passengers mysteriously dropping dead right before their eyes. With no real suspect, everyone is a suspect and the audience is left with the classic wonderment of “Who Did It?”
The cast includes a variety of fun, eccentric characters brought to life by the students at LHS, including newlyweds, a professor, a sports recruiter, a movie star, a CEO, an aspirating musician, and more. They all work together to discover who the murderer is before it’s too late. This performance will have the audience guessing right up until the train pulls into the station.
The LHS production of “Murder On The 518” will be held this Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12 at the LHS cafetorium beginning at 7 p.m. both nights. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. both nights. There is no charge for admission, but a free-will donation will be taken at the door as the drama department is raising money to purchase wireless microphones, an important piece when performing their musicals.