by Trevor Hass
Zimmerman student Michael Johann desperately wanted to act in “Anne of Green Gables,” but as director Jon Palashewski cast roles for the play, it grew clear Johann likely wouldn’t have that chance.
A few weeks ago, however, when one of the students had to drop out, Johann, who is blind, stepped right in and ultimately filled two roles in the production this weekend. He was a reverend and the president of a college, and Palashewski said he did a great job changing his voice, lifting up his face and delivering his lines as president without his glasses.
“It was neat that he had that opportunity, because that was his heart’s desire,” Palashewski said.
Johann was one of many Zimmerman students who took part in the production this past weekend at ZHS. For leads Madelyn Muckenhirn and Linny Briggs, the show was an opportunity to take on bigger roles.
Palashewski said he didn’t know going into auditions that Muckenhirn would play Anne Shirley or Briggs would play Marilla Cuthbert. However, once they auditioned, it became clear to him that they were the right people for the roles. Muckenhirn, a junior, relished the opportunity to be the main star in a play for the first time.
“It was just a blast,” she said. “It was at first a rather daunting task when I saw how many lines I had to memorize, but I was a really rewarding experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to play this role.”
She said some of the actions came naturally to her, but there were others she had to work at for hours and hours before they felt right. Muckenhirn particularly enjoyed a scene in the classroom where she got to break a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head.
Briggs, a sophomore, said playing a strict, stern character presented a challenge. Despite that, she said it was a very fun role and allowed her to branch out.
“I had never been a lead before, so it was very different from anything I had ever done,” Briggs said.
For Palashewski, one main challenge was making sure the kids understood how to deliver the subtle humor in the show. He was thrilled to receive compliments from audience members afterward, and he said he thought they nailed it as well.
“It’s a little more challenging piece to do for this age,” Palashewski said. “The piece itself focuses more on the characters, and there’s a lot of nuances. It’s not slapstick kind of humor. It’s more humor because the characters are a little bit eccentric. It’s just about a young girl growing up. For high school seniors that can be difficult, but they did a really great job.”