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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Behind the scenes of a stage performance

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week
Photographs by Terry Mayer/The Week

Terry Mayer/The Week
Abigail Halon (kneeling in the center) as Peter Pan and Amanda Page (lying on floor) as Wendy, with the Lost Boys.

Ever wonder what it takes to create a high-caliber live performance from its inception to opening night?

Quite a lot, Deb Helgeson can tell you.

Helgeson, a senior at UW-Whitewater, has taken on the role as marketing and publicity coordinator for the spring show, "Peter Pan," as her senior project.

The largest hurdles are juggling everyone's busy schedules and meeting the strings of deadlines.

"They're not really surprises, but they are challenges," she said.

Helgeson, a Rhinelander native, is majoring in theater management promotions and the experience she's gaining will be priceless after she graduates in May.

She chose this field as it is the perfect mix of where she's been and where she wants to go.

"I wanted to mix my business experience and passion for theater," she said. "I wanted something I would be completely satisfied doing."

Helgeson's first career was in the field of information technology, but after years in the field she felt something was missing.

She had a passion for theater as a teen, but when the time came to choose a career, she didn't see it as an avenue in which she could build a career.

"In high school I was the child that was there at 7:30 in the morning until 9 o'clock at night," she says. "I was involved in theater, forensics, band and choir, so there was always a rehearsal and something to paint.

"But once I graduated high school I thought that part of my life was over."

Ten years passed before Helgeson returned to the stage through community theater.

"Then at one point I thought, 'Why can't I do this for a living?'" she said.

"So I did some research, found there were jobs in this area and that Whitewater had a theater management major.

"And now, I can't say enough wonderful things about the program here. I've had so much hands-on experience it's phenomenal. And because it's a smaller school, everybody has to do everything-that will be handy when I have my own theater."

Helgeson's post-graduate plans are to open her own theater company in the Southwest and the education and experiences at UW-Whitewater is integral in making her dream come true.

The company usually performs in the Barnett Theater, but this spring's show will be performed in the Young Auditorium to accommodate Peter Pan's need to fly, giving her even more experience.

"We've had to use a completely different strategy for filling the difference in houses."

Differing marketing strategies are just one part of the experience that will help Helgeson be the high-quality theater director she's visualizing.

The combination of departments and special effects will also be a great experiential asset.

"It's a cool show because of the collaboration with the music department and the flying effects-we have lots of safety precautions and training," she said.

Hall Associates Flying Effects is working with the group so Peter Pan can wow audiences by flying overhead.

"It's been a great experience overall and I can really see myself as a success after graduation."

"Peter Pan" will be performed March 1 at 7 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m. at the Irvin L. Young Auditorium on the UW-Whitewater campus. Tickets are $14-$16 general and $12-$14 seniors and under 18. For more information, call 472-2222, visit http://tickets.uww.edu/ or go to the Greenhill Center Box Office 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


"Heading far out of sight, second star to the right."

Peter Pan, based on the play by James M. Barrie. The UW-Whitewater Theater/Dance and Music departments present the classic story of Peter Pan, March 1-2 at the Irvin L. Young Auditorium.

With the help of a little fairy dust, Peter teaches Wendy, John and Michael how to fly and leads them on many adventures in Never Never Land, joining the Lost Boys in a showdown with Captain Hook and his pirates.

Cast and Crew

Director - Charles "Skip" Grover
Musical director/conductor - Robert Gehrenbeck
Choreographer - Barbara Grubel
Scene design - Tom Colwin
Lighting design -Jason Fassl
Costume design - Denise P. Ehren
Stage manager - Kristin Schnulle-Booth
Peter Pan - Abigail Halon
Wendy - Amanda Page
John - Roland Luckett
Liza - Amanda Franecki
Michael - Travis Winger
Nana - Hillary Jane Baird
Mrs. Darling - Jacquelyn Nasby
Mr. Darling - Mike Bevis
Lion - David J. Franz
Kangaroo - Rachel Wenndt
Ostrich - Carole Alt
Slightly - Christopher Gonyo
Tootles - Kenny Heiman
Curly - Sarah Bartow
Nibs - Ashley B. Arroyo
First twin - Erin Purcell
Second twin - Claire Gribble
Captain Hook - Mike Bevis
Smee - Alexander Hall
Crocodile - Hillary Jane Baird
Tiger Lily - Shannon Davis
Starkey - Kient Gill
Cecco - Tyler King
Noodler - Morgan Foley
Mullin - Matt Hackbarth
Jukes - Shane Lee
Wendy grown-up - Savannah Hardyman
Jane-Amanda Page
Lost boys - Ian Knox, Leif Sahyun and Stone Wang
Pirates - Nathaniel Jeppsen, Ben Koehler, Benjamin Matthews, Cole Nelson, Curtis Reid and Jay Julian Stinson
Indians - Keely Fiedler, Zachary Jeppsen, Audra Lange, Julia Lewis, Nicole McCarty, Saundra Montijo, Kay Pistora, Jason Rohn, Becky Ruge, Avery Stann, Emma Stutzman, Shantelle Szyper and Katherine Wilson
Performer fly crew - Delos J. Adamski, Zach Johnson, David Traxler, Nate Willkom and Richard Wolff



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