As January goes on so does the practice for the musical “Amélie,” taking place February 16-18. The show takes place in Paris during the 1970’s the 1990’s and Amélie is a bright young woman who lives quietly in the world but loudly in her mind. She secretly tries to devise small but surprising acts of kindness that bring joy and mayhem. But when a chance at love comes her way, Amélie realizes that to find happiness she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart. The 18 cast members, directors, and 17 crew members have been and will continue to work hard getting everything ready for opening week.

English teacher Jennifer Walker is doing the choreography for the first time. Walker said she is enjoying the process. “It’s stressful and fun, but it’s worth all the stress, work, and time.” There are about ten dance numbers and it could be stressful with that many people trying to get them all coordinated and doing the right moves.
“Some are much trickier than others,”Walker said. “Sometimes just getting started is hard, but once I stand up and start moving around the ideas start coming.”
There are so many different styles of dance but at the same time so many different ways to describe dances and when describing the dance numbers, Walker said.
“They are very imaginative and fun, and their purpose is to tell the story.” Creativity is key to choreography when asked how she came up with the idea for the choreography for the songs she said.
“I always let the script, lyrics, and music guide my decisions on what movements to use and when.”

The sound director is Geoffery Kaufman, he has been teaching at Topeka high for 31 years and has been the sound director for about 18 years. He joins us every second semester, during the first semester he spends his time in Manhattan, Kansas with his wife. He has been here longer than any theater teacher currently at Topeka High.This year we got a new sound system but we don’t have everything just yet this summer the speakers and amplifiers are being replaced. But the old one was a little outdated when asked how he liked the old system Kaufman said.
“It was extremely stressful, a love / hate relationship. I hope with the new equipment it will be less stressful and sound better. At first learning new things can be hard. But not in this case since this newer sound equipment is digital instead of analog Kaufman said.
“I think the new equipment will be easy to learn once I get past the understanding.” Know there has to be a lot to this new sound broad to like but when asked he said.
“You can program every song and scene in a show.

Stage Manager
Wyatt Tripe (12) is the stage manager for the musical. It’s his first time stage managing for a play/musical but he has been an assistant stage manager before. When asked if he liked it he said.
“I do like it, it’s been really fun to work with everyone and we have a great cast and crew that has made my job a lot easier”. Tripe said being stage manager is a different job than he’s used to, but it’s worth it.
“Some days it’s a lot of work, some days it’s not. It’s fun. Actual work is not too stressful yet, but it is knowing it will be later a little bit of both”.

Tech Director
Amanda Burr Stage Craft Teacher is doing lighting for the plays, sound 1st semester, and building sets with her stagecraft classes although with all the sets they build I can imagine they need more lumber. Now that’s a lot to do. When asked, Burr said.
“It’s stressful at some point but it’s always rewarding in the end.” Now doing tech you never really noticed your more in the shadows. You see a lot of shows and sometimes a show that hasn’t really been done is refreshing to both the audience and the students and teachers. That’s what Burr hopes the audience like about this play.
“Seeing something new that hasn’t been done at every school or community theater before.”


Emma Culbertson (10) playing Young Améile. She’s been in many of our school plays and musicals. She said she likes being in the plays and musicals because…
“I love being involved in our theater department, it brings so much joy into my life, and it’s such an exciting environment to be in”. Sometimes when you’re doing a play or musical you have a lot of lines or dance numbers you have to learn and sometimes can be stressful but memorizing lines comes easy to culbertson but…
“the only time I had struggles with that was when I was in Kodachrome, and my character had to narrate the ENTIRE show, it’s the dancing and singing that’s a bit harder to memorize, I’m really not that good at dancing, I’m good at singing its just so much music to memorize, it get overwhelming at times.” For Culberston shows can be so rewarding but…
“ It can be exhausting doing show after show, but when I’m not doing a show, I often times ask myself “What now?”, going to rehearsals after school every day has become my new routine ever since I’ve been a student here, so when we finish a production it feels very strange going straight home after school”.

Main Director

Derek Jensen the director for the musical and the acting teacher here at t-high. Directing a show can be a lot of work. When asked Jensen said.” Yes but the pay off in the end is always worth it. There are so many elements involved, but the end is rewarding. Now sometimes you wonder why this play or musical. “Because Améile is all about making connections in other people’s lives and making small insignificant changes that add up to something bigger and helps bring people together.” And like all shows the students and director hope people enjoy. “I hope that they really enjoy the fun and quirkiness of the story and see the theme, and see the students having fun with the musical and us coming together after covid.”