Performances Now Starting: Featuring GCHS CPGI

“Encore in general is a beautiful company to be a part of…We’re not just performing and having lights and clapping for the whole competition. [You] work on skills that you don’t normally do in this school,” Yah said.


Total Image Photographics

The whole CPGI cast and crew after their dress rehearsals for both shows on March 17, 2023.

Alexandra de la Mora, Opinion Editor

After a successful fall performance with the musical Chicago, Grayslake Central’s theater program, ENCORE!, set out for its competitive season with its two performances: Contest Play and Group Interpretation. After two and a half months of building, acting, and perfecting the two shows, ENCORE! went to Lake Park High School on March 18, to compete against other theater programs. The actors accomplished their mission at sectionals to touch the audience’s hearts, leaving them laughing and drying off their tears with both performances.

With a time limit of 40 minutes to perform with an additional 10 minutes to set up and take down the set, Contest Play (CP) runs like a normal play with lighting, sounds, costume changes, and props. This year CP was the classic Louisa May Alcott story of Little Women.

Director for CP and English teacher Lauren Tracy said her inspiration in picking Little Women for this year was her own love of the classic story, “I really liked the idea of telling the story of family and sisterhood with Little Women. . .It’s a really fun story for high schoolers to experience because [the characters and actors] are around [the same] age. We’re not asking actors to tap into experiences that are perhaps older than they are.” 

The whole cast of CP’s show Little Women having some fun as a whole cast. (Photo by Total Image Photographics)

Although finding this heartfelt story for the audience and judges to enjoy, the time limit unfortunately led to many scenes to be cut out in the performance. 

“Normally, when you have just a regular play going on, you could do the whole thing, but finding the story throughout all of the scenes and knowing that you need to cut it down to 40 minutes, it’s really hard. I really tried to keep the heart of the story [like] the family and the relationships,” Tracy said.

Despite the difficulty of cutting such a powerful story, CP placed third at sectionals and created a great atmosphere for the actors and stage crew members throughout the whole experience. 

Senior Kalani Yah, who played Marmee in Little Women, has been a part of ENCORE! throughout her high school career from musicals to Senior One Acts. This being her last CPGI performance since her sophomore year, she was excited to see what this year had to offer.

“We had a whole new set of actors that were willing to join [this year and] just seeing the show come together was really exciting…The set was beautiful and I loved being a part of it. [Working] for props I remember one of the projects we worked on onstage [was crocheting] while we were acting…It was an amazing experience being able to work on Saturdays for the show and contribute [in] that way was a lot of fun,” Yah said. 

Senior Kalani Yah as Marmee and sophomore Tina Whaples as Amy having some fun on stage during their dress rehearsal. (Photo by Total Image Photographics)

One of two crew heads for sound, senior Ahad Khan participated in his last season of CPGI enjoying the time he has spent with the friends that he has made throughout his high school career in GCHS theater program. 

“Seeing a blank stage to a full set was a really rewarding experience. We [ sound crew] had a bunch of sound effects for the character Beth who is a piano player [in Little Women]. So coming up with sound effects and then her “playing” them on stage live in front of an audience is really rewarding to see that come from start to finish,” Khan said.

When asked what was the ongoing feelings during the day of sectionals Tracy explained it was a very proud day for everyone in the company and for the other schools competing, “It was a little bit hectic at times, but that’s just kind of the nature of the competition. Everyone worked together really well, cast, crew and the whole company.”

Khan follows with his emotions during the competition, “During the award ceremony me and Will Mueler [the other crew head for sound] won medals which [was] really cool because usually, tech people do not win awards. It [was] really cool to see my work having an effect.”

As much of a positive impact that CP had on the cast and crew, Group Interpretation (GI) had a great season as well.

A time limit of 30 minutes with a unique approach to its theater performance of the actors acting as themselves or as objects without the stage set up of a normal play just carpeted boxes as their layout. This year’s GI performance was Failure: A Love Story written by Phil Dawkins which follows the tragic story of the Failure family’s daughters of their similar love interest and their mysterious deaths.  

Junior Justin Spoor has been a part of ENCORE since his sophomore year. For his first year in GI, Spoor expresses how different GI was for him compared to his previous performances. “[When] I first heard about it, I was a little bit hesitant of even wanting to audition for it…I [was] so used to [a] certain format [of theater] and GI [was] a completely new thing.” 

Junior Justin Spoor and Senior Milla Kutsin during their dress rehearsal as the rest of the GI cast act out a building behind them. (Photo by Total Image Photographics)

When asked about his first experience with performing at sectionals, Spoor was quite nervous throughout the day. “My skills are actually going to be judged and ranked [especially since my] whole entire new script [was changed] a week before the competition, but it ended up working and I won this cool metal. [It ended up] being amazing. I feel like my nervousness actually was really used for the better. I felt like that performance was probably the best performance I’ve ever performed for that show.” 

The whole GI cast having one last laugh as they finish up their dress rehearsal. (Photo by Total Image Photographics)


After a long competition season, with both shows just making that cut-off to go to state, the whole company has been incredibly grateful for the opportunities that CPGI and overall ENCORE! had provided for each of its cast and crew members.

As seniors, Khan and Yah have major takeaways from their final performances.

“My main takeaway is [that] theater is what you make of it. So as a sound designer, you have to read the script from start to finish and see what can I add here that’s going to amplify the show, what’s going to make it better, what’s going to leave an effect on the audience. So it’s truly what you make of it” Khan said. 

Yah follows by saying how important it is to get involved within the community that is theater. 

“Encore in general is a beautiful company to be a part of…We’re not just performing and having lights and clapping for the whole competition. [You] work on skills that you don’t normally do in this school.”