Passing the Baton: Senior Thespians Talk Leaving Creek Theatre

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Courtesy of Alex Burkart

Junior Eliana Yokomichi and seniors Miranda Joyce and Lexi Casey star as Donna and the Dynamos in “Mamma Mia!,” Creek’s spring musical. This was both Joyce and Casey’s last show, as seniors can’t participate in the spring play. “My final show made me overflow with emotion,” Casey said. “I have truly found a home at Creek theatre and to say goodbye was difficult. They have encouraged me to follow my passions to college and I will be forever grateful.”

Carly Philpott and Norah Rudnick

“Promise to love you forever more…”

Confetti flutters down from the catwalks as the cast of “Mamma Mia!” takes the stage for the show’s final number, “Waterloo.” For over a quarter of the cast, this will be their last time onstage at Creek.

It’s an annual tradition: seniors aren’t allowed to participate in the final spring play of the school year. A smaller production, the spring play is partly meant to allow next year’s seniors to step into leadership roles and to test the functionality of the theatre without its biggest leaders. But for the seniors, this means watching as the show goes on without them.

“Post-‘Mamma Mia!,’ I’m feeling really bittersweet,” said senior Alex Mitchell, vice president of Creek’s Troupe 1730. “But I feel so lucky it happened. My mom always used to tell me this [Dr. Seuss] quote: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.’ That’s how I feel.”

“Mamma-Mia!” featured 16 seniors, many of whom had leadership roles on the cast or crew. One senior, Miranda Joyce, starred as Donna Sheridan, a dream role for them, in the musical. For Joyce, saying goodbye to Creek theatre with Donna came with a bag of mixed feelings.

“It was a perfect ending to my Creek theatre experience,” Joyce said. “I have never felt so creatively fulfilled. I feel like that little girl watching Meryl Streep on her living room TV has finally gotten her dreams. It was incredibly emotional for me throughout the whole process, and although saying goodbye to Donna and Creek theatre in tandem is sort of painfully heartbreaking, it was the most gratifying and satisfying way to go out.”

In the final performance of the year, “Eurydice,” juniors in the theatre program take over crewhead and stage management positions and often star in the show. Two seniors, Amanda Joseph and Mitchell, remained on the production as associate directors. Others assisted in the production some way or another, often because they were on the Troupe 1730 board, like seniors Sara Manos and Lizzie Esses. But for the juniors, this means taking over in ways they haven’t yet.

Junior Amelia Mindlin-Leitner was stage manager for “Eurydice,” having spent “Mamma Mia!” as assistant stage manager under Esses. “It is incredibly intimidating to [stage manage] after an awesome [stage manager] like Lizzie,” Mindlin Leitner said. “They were such a great role model and it’s tough to figure out how to be the same type of role model but still be friendly.”

Watching the leaders of the theater leave is also challenging emotionally. “When you first join theatre, all you want is to be like the current seniors and to get them to like you,” Mindlin-Leitner said. “Then all of a sudden, they’re gone and you’re in charge. It’s not all bad though. You do get to be so proud of these people who you’ve grown to love are now graduating and going on to do incredible things.”

For the seniors, it’s also a bittersweet experience to watch the juniors take over the theatre. Many have high hopes for the future of the program and those in it, expressing that the juniors were already doing an amazing job with “Eurydice.”

Senior Ren Becerra was the Assistant Choreographer for “Mamma Mia!” and spent some time onstage with the ensemble during the show. “Coming completely off of COVID protocols, I have big aspirations and expectations for what Cherry Creek Theatre can achieve, and I know they’ll exceed expectations,” Becerra said.

Joseph described how it felt to stay behind, continuing to work on Creek productions even as the rest of her class had moved on. “It’s weird being one of the only seniors still in theatre – I almost feel like a freshman again,” Joseph said. “All my closest friends have moved on and I am left with everyone else, who all are super close with each other.”

Even leaving theatre is an extremely gratifying experience, watching people grow to fit the mold of leading the theatre and seeing them succeed is a good way to round out the senior’s experience at Creek.

“It feels great to watch troupe members step into positions they have been preparing for,” Esses said. “I’m very proud of the work they are putting into leadership, especially because the production process for [Eurydice] is very short.”