Curtain call

Seniors prepare for final show
Ann Gill

     There is something special about being a part of the school musical, and for seniors McKenzie Hennessy and Lauren Phillips, they’re making the most of what will be their last production.
    Phillips has been performing in school and community productions since she was in grade school.  Hennessy got involved in  theatre as a member of the tech crew in middle school.
    “My first show was “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was in the ensemble, and literally every single time I step on stage it’s just like the first time, it’s such a great feeling,” Hennessy said.
    It’s the excitement of performing that keeps her involved in her school’s theatre program and, as she heads into her senior show, she’s looking forward to being a part of the cast that brings alive author Natalie Babbitt’s award-winning novel, “Tuck Everlasting.”
    “I had no idea what Tuck was at all, and I listened to the music and I loved the music and was like OK, this is going to be a good (show) to go out on,” Hennessy said.
    Phillips is absolutely dreading the end of her time in high school theatre, and says the theme of this year’s musical brings her years of performing full circle.
    “I would think about my senior show and the fact that it is here, is just unbelievable. But I think this is a beautiful show to go out on,” Phillips said.
    Through their participation in theatre and specifically this show, the senior performers have come to learn that life is best when it’s lived.
    “I would say (this show) is a wake-up call to live the best life, the best that you can, because you are not going to live forever and it has that feeling to it. There will be tears when you leave, but you’re going to walk out feeling uplifted,” Phillips said.
    For this production, Phillips takes on the role of Mother.  Her character is a  recently widowed woman left to care for her only child, an 11-year-old daughter named Winnie.
    “Things in her life have drug her down and it’s been tough for the family to move on together, and that is something everybody can relate to. Everyone who comes to this show knows and has family that has passed, and everyone knows how that is and the toll it takes. I think my character brings that realness  and depth to the story, because obviously it’s hard for Mother to let Winnie go off and do everything that she wants to do when she’s the only person now that can protect her. But at the same time it’s important to realize that Winnie is still an 11-year-old kid that still needs to grow and live life and I think the whole story itself shows that,” Phillips said.
    Hennessy takes the stage as Nana, a spunky and sometimes sarcastic older woman, and Winnie’s biggest supporter when it comes to giving her a little bit of freedom to be a kid.
    “My character is like the comedic relief throughout the whole show, because she’s kooky and laid back,” Hennessy said.
    She finds one particular line in Act Two to be the funniest she delivers.
    During an exchange with the Man in the Yellow Suit, a role being played by junior Cody Rogers, she calls him an evil banana.
    “She calls him a banana, that’s just funny,” Hennessy said with a chuckle.
    For Phillips her favorite part of the show comes when sophomore Riley Nevin takes the stage as Miles Tuck to perform the song, “Time.”
    “When he sings and performs you can fell the emotions he is feeling on stage. Just listening to him you can feel it and I’m so excited for everyone in town to just share in this amazing feeling,” Phillips said.
    There are a number of moving moments, thought provoking lines and memorable songs, but both actresses say audiences will certainly be talking about the show’s scenic design created by Celeste Sheridan.
    “She has such an eye for creativity and bringing different sets and pieces to life is amazing. The time and effort she puts into everything she does is appreciated and her work ethic is impressive,” Hennessy said.
    Phillips notes the cast is blessed with a strong and dedicated creative team.
    “Our creative team is so amazing, we couldn’t do it without them in any sort of way and because of that we feel more entitled to actually bring everything to life. When everyone works so hard together it pushes you to be even better yourself,”  Phillips said.
    The performers are looking forward to show time, having a chance to dance across the stage and share the story of the Fosters and the Tucks.
    “Tuck Everlasting” will be presented over two weekends—March 7-10 and March 15-17—in the Coal City Performing Arts Center at Coal City High School.
    Reserved seat tickets—$5 students and seniors and $8 adults—can be purchased at The website also features a full cast list, creative team bios and a synopsis of the musical that made its Broadway debut in March 2016.