Southwest students to present Sherlock mystery
Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022
It will be the 1st live play for middle schoolers since 2019
By Alex Guerrero
After two years — one canceled and the other recorded — live theater is returning Friday at Southwest Middle School when students and crew premier “Young Sherlock.”
Prior to Friday’s show, students will perform for the seventh grade Thursday morning and sixth grade that afternoon.
Laura Kuisle, seventh-grade math teacher and coding teacher at the middle school, said auditions started in December, and rehearsals began right after winter break.
She and the students particularly enjoy the thrill of performing in front of people.
“They really like that audience participation, clapping for them and cheering them on live,” she said.
Wanting to avoid an overdone play, Kuisle decided on “Young Sherlock” to avoid a typical fantasy play such as “Cinderella” or “Snow White.”
It also helped that students preferred mystery, who-did-it plays.
“Young Sherlock” tells the story of Sherlock Holmes while he’s in the academy and becoming a detective.
“He stumbles upon a mystery that happens at school, and he has to figure it out before the local police figure it out,” Kuisle said.
Besides Kuisle, the students appear excited for the production.
“I enjoy acting,” said Katelyn Schmidt, who plays Miss Butterworth, the principal at Butterworth Academy. Prior to acting as Butterworth, Schmidt said she performed in one elementary school play and was set to perform in a fifth-grade musical before COVID canceled it.
Sixth-grader Jackson Bighley will play Larry Lestrade, a character who “assumes that he’s always right, even though he’s most likely always wrong.”
Like Schmidt, Bighley also performed in elementary school.
Schmidt was thrilled to be back on stage.
“It feels pretty good because you’re able to not have to wear masks and you can be with all your friends, perform and do what you like,” Schmidt said.
Bighley admitted to getting slightly nervous, but described being back on stage as “nice.”
“I learn from the experience from all the other actors on stage,” he said.
Seventh grader Maggie Schulz will play a maid — Ruda —at Butterworth Academy, a character she described as “lazy overall.”
This won’t be her first theater experience. She had previously been in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Alice in Wonderland,” and was part of a recorded performance last year.
“It’s a lot of fun people and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of the cast and … to be just part of the group,” she said. “It’s also a lot of fun just acting and being someone else.”
Schulz shared Bighley’s nerves, but hoped anyone who sees it enjoys the performance.
While working on this, Kuisle said having students wearing masks was an initial challenge, as well as the constant contact-tracing.
“We were dealing with the fact that a lot of kids were gone with quarantine,” she said. “A lot of people were gone for this and that and not feeling well, so we’re hoping that everyone will be together for the performances on Thursday and Friday.
Kuisle estimated between student rehearsals and set construction, the entire project took 96 hours.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday, with the play starting at 7 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend.
“Two years ago in 2020 we had “Murder at the Malt Shop,” and we were so close to performing,” Kuisle said. “We were five days away from performance. And because of the whole aspect of COVID, we got shut down five days before and we couldn’t perform the play at all.”
Not wanting to waste everyone’s hard work, Kuisle and art teacher Alissa Sauer recorded the performance — line by line and clip by clip — in 2021. It was an experience she enjoyed.
“I really liked the movie aspect because it’s forever,” she said.
Kuisle, whose first experience with theater was in fifth grade, has directed plays at the middle school for eight years. She has also directed in her hometown of Byron.
If you go
What: “Young Sherlock”
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Southwest Middle School
Cost: Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students; children 5 and under are free
Director: Laura Kuisle
Set Designer/Assistant Director: Alissa Sauer
Student Directors: Riley Johnston, Gavin Hanke, Hayden Lowe
Lights: Allondra Del Rosas Lazaro
Spotlight: Paw Eh
Set Builders: Laura Kuisle, Alissa Sauer, National Honor Society Students
Monique: Chloey Casequin
Carlotta: Amaiya Sanchez
Ruda: Maggie Schulz
Miss Klegg: Evelyn Koepke
Miss Butterworth: Katelyn Schmidt
Lulu: Jaelani William
Larry Lestrade: Jackson Bighley
Sherlock Holmes: Hans Jeppson
John Watson: Kate Peterson
James Moriarty: Rory Helms
Helen Stone: Norah Pohl
Irene Adler: Ellery Schewe
Hetty Hudson: Nora Smith
Henry Baskerville: Damien Estes
Lady Windsor: Lia Cunningham
Signora Medici: Lilly Benschoter
Leticia Windsor: Ash Fynbo
Rosa Medici: Elle Schulz
Madame Bonaparte: Adele Helleksen
Señora Goya: Keisha Navarrete
Constable Bing: Audrey Gustafson
Cyril: Connor Hanson
Duchess Simpson: Olivya Chau
Hortense: Jaycie Eaton