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Article appeared in the Oconomowoc Focus June 20, 2016

By Donna Frake

The Oconomowoc High School Theater Department, and its director Tom Klubertanz, are not content to rest on their laurels after having been awarded Outstanding Musical in the state for sixth time in seven years.

Despite the numerous accolades and the growing reputation OHS has garnered for its renowned theater arts program, Klubertanz is looking forward to a new challenge on the stage in the upcoming school year.

Marking his 10th anniversary in the district this fall, the teacher/director is excited to do something not yet seen in the state by selecting to stage "Billy Elliot The Musical", with performances planned for Nov. 12-20 at the Oconomowoc Arts Center.

"That one is really going to be something," Klubertanz said. "We will be the first school in Wisconsin to perform it and one of the first in the nation.

"It is such an amazing piece of theater all about a boy growing up in a mining town in England who discovers a love of dance and how the community around him learns to support that choice.

"We actually saw the show in London with the entire Fringe group last summer, so you can only imagine how excited the kids are to bring it to our community. The show has some major special effects; we will be flying people for the first time in a show here, and it is a huge dance show."

The play is the story of a young boy's journey from boxing ring to ballet class, where his passion for dance is discovered. The uplifting and inspirational story includes music by Elton John and a caution that the play contains strong language.

"OHS is proud to be the first high school in Wisconsin and the Midwest to produce this amazing musical," Klubertanz said.

Student directed play

The 9th annual Senior Directed Play will be held Feb. 23-25 at the OAC when students Peggie Alexander and Ian Smith take the reigns and select, cast, design, publicize and ultimately direct their own main-stage production.

Over the course of the summer they will begin the yearlong preparation for their directorial debut by pouring over hundreds of plays to find the title that is a perfect fit

The senior-directed play has become a traditional midwinter favorite.

The Crucible

Looking ahead to the spring, Klubertanz is also giving a nod to his past with a play to be staged May 4-6.

"We are so excited about the season," he said. "It will be my 10th year in the Oconomowoc Area School District, and to sort of honor that milestone personally, we are taking another crack at "The Crucible", which was the first show I directed here 10-years ago.

"Then we performed in our still-to-be-renovated Little Theatre, and it was a cramped, uninviting environment and really didn't work well for the show.

"Although we had an amazing cast, the space just wasn't right for such an epic piece. We are so thrilled to be able to rework it now in the gorgeous confines of the OAC. It is going to be scary good."

Arthur Miller's masterpiece takes place in 1692, during the time of the Salem witch trials, with a farmer, his distraught wife and a dangerous young woman caught in a flash of hysteria.

The play serves as an allegory to the infamous Red Scare of the 1950s McCarthy era, and the end results prove how very little we seem to have learned from our past, the teacher noted.

The play selections for the 2016-17 season center on a common issue.

"The theme is all about the lessons we teach our children, as both pieces are about kids and how they grow and who is responsible for them along the way. Even though the pieces are separated by hundreds of years plot-wise, they have so much in common with one another, so I think it will be an exciting season," Klubertanz said.

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