About Us

General Info

Shawnee Mission Northwest is a public high school in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. It opened in 1969 as part of the Shawnee Mission School District #512 and serves students in the Shawnee and Lenexa area.

The Theatre department at Northwest, registered in the International Thespian Society as Thespian Troupe #888, is as old as the school itself. Over the years, hundreds of students have been inducted into the Troupe, reciting a theatre artist's pledge upon a dim, candlelit stage in the school's Parker Auditorium.

Troupe members are not the only ones who can work on productions; mainstage shows are open to the entire school. The department normally produces three mainstage shows: a fall musical, a winter drama or comedy, and a spring drama or comedy. The Reportory class produces several productions throughout year, culminating in a full-scale Repertory musical as the season's final show each spring.

Toward the end of the year, the Troupe holds an awards banquet to honor those who have significantly contributed to the season's success and to name new officers for the next year.

Faculty

Keli Rodgers

Keli Rodgers
Theatre Teacher, Director

A true visionary (so says Carrie Shanafeltfuture famous author) and a disciplined director (so also says Carrie Shanafeltstill future famous author). Ms. Rodgers has directed our theatre department for going on twenty-six years now. With more than 130 productions to her directing credit, all cannot be listed, but a few of her favorites are: The Rainmaker, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Night of January Sixteenth, 42nd Street, The Foreigner, The Importance of Being Earnest, Little Shop of Horrors, Once Upon a Mattress, Crazy for You, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Crimes of the Heart, Ten Little Indians, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Miracle Worker, All in the Timing, The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail, Lucky Stiff, Working, Pirates of Penzance, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd and Big River. From Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star program, Ms. Rodgers has received four nominations for Outstanding Direction of a Musical (for Working, The Pirates of Penzance Bye Bye Birdie and Sweeney Todd). In 2007, she was thrilled to receive from her peers the Parker Award for Excellence in Teaching. Under her direction, expect to be treated like a mature professional -- you'll figure the rest out for yourself. 

Judy Tuckness, Technical Director

Judy Tuckness
Technical Director

Not only a superb TD, but practically a foster mother for any and all would-be "techies,” she is affectionately referred to as "Mama T." Mama T works tirelessly with her enthusiastic crew of students to ensure that sets are great, and no one gets hurt. Her work for NW includes The Mikado, Funny Girl, The Passion of Dracula, Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, The Music Man, The Rainmaker, Charley's Aunt, Anything Goes, The Night of January Sixteenth, Steel Magnolias, 42nd Street, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Foreigner, Hello, Dolly!, Harvey, Once Upon a Mattress, Little Shop of Horrors, The Crucible, Blithe Spirit, Li'l Abner, Night Must Fall, Barefoot in the Park, Grease, Guys and Dolls, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nerd, Joseph ..., Crazy for You, Inherit the Wind, Born Yesterday, Starmites, Kiss Me, Kate, The Boys Next Door, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Pippin, Brigadoon, A Doll House, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Molly Whuppie, How to Succeed…, Crimes of the Heart, Ten Little Indians, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Oklahoma!, The Miracle Worker, All in the Timing, The Fantastiks Carousel, The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail, You Can’t Take It With You, Lucky Stiff, Annie Get Your Gun, The Crucible, Black Comedy and The Real Inspector Hound, Working, Pirates of Penzance, Our Town, Fools, Into the Woods, Mousetrap, Grease! Paint Your Wagon, Big River, Once Upon a Mattress, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Cabaret, and Les Miserables. Mama T. would like to add: "Being a technical director is a natural extension of my creative self, allowing me to extend my artistic expression and have a great time doing it! The stage at SMNW is a big canvas to work with, but so was that three-acre pageant site I did sets for in Independence. As an art form, theatre is ever challenging; it moves, it's colorful, it's emotional; theatre is magic!"

Debbie Green, Music Director

Debbie Green
Music Director

Mrs. Green graduated from Northwest just after the time that dinosaurs roamed the earth. She went on to study opera at UMKC and had a satisfying performance career, performing leading roles in the operas of Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, Mozart, Menotti, Humperdink, and Britten, as well as numerous oratorios, and appearing in solo performance with the KC Symphony, before settling into the important work of raising her three children. She continues to perform and teaches private voice lessons. Mrs. Green provided musical direction for past Repertory Theatre productions of The Fantastiks, Lucky Stiff, Working, Into the Woods (in which she also had the pleasure of singing The Witch), Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street , Side by Side by Sondheim, Big River, Once Upon a Mattress and Les Miserables as well as Cabaret, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Fantasticks, Gypsy, Into the Woods (again), Working (again), and Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Mrs. Green would like to thank her family for supporting the time she invests in her students.

Mindy Moritz, Choreographer

Mindy Moritz
Choreographer

Mindy graduated from SMNW in 2005. She was a Thespian officer for three years and committed almost all her time to the theatre. Mindy has participated in over 50 musicals in the last fifteen years of her life; playing everything from chorus girl to leading lady. She has a passion to perform, but loves teaching as well. She's choreographed and directed numerous shows for CYT and other educational theatre companies. Mindy has taken dance for over 13 years. She has taught tap, jazz, ballet, and swing both traditionally and privately. After graduating from SMNW, she was a musical theatre major in college, then recently finished at a Leadership Academy in Colorado Springs. She is delighted to be back in Kansas City choreographing for her alma mater. NW audiences may remember Mindy as Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, Rita in Lucky Stiff, Carrie Snow in Carousel, a member of the award-winning ensemble of Working, Her Mother in The Fantasticks or as the director of Dames at Sea. She was also the choreographer for Grease!, Side by Side by Sondheim, Paint Your Wagon , Big River, Once Upon a Mattress, Les Misérables, Cabaret, Gypsy, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes, Working, Little Shop of Horrors and The Fantasticks, Into the Woods, and Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee here at Northwest. 

Troupe #888

President: Maddie Munsey
Vice President: Shantice White
Stage Manager: Ginger Harris
Secretary: Alyssa Gaul
Treasurer: Josh Holloway
Points Clerk: Mandy Dulny
Media Clerk: Lily Havranek
Publicist: Ethan Schreiber
Fundraiser: Ali Johnson
Historian/Dramaturge: Matthew Robison
   
   
   
   

Academics

Drama

Drama is an introductory, full-year class that teaches the fundamentals of acting and focuses on basic acting technique. It briefly studies the history of drama and musical theatre as art forms. It also provides practice time for improvisational and scene-acting skills and allows students to dabble in stagecraft.

Actor's Studio

Actor's Studio is a one-semester class typically offered in the fall. Drama is a prerequisite. One must have basic knowledge and basic acting experience to excel in this class. The actor works out his personal trouble spots in order to better his own skills. This class enables students to better understand the workings of a scene and introduces them to the world of classical scenes and monologues. Acting theory is introduced with a emphasis on Stanislavsky and Stella Adler.

Technical Theatre

Technical Theatre is a one-semester class typically offered in the spring. Drama is a prerequisite. This class focuses on the technical aspects of theatre. Tech students learn the basics of construction, lighting, and sound. Design is emphasized.

Repertory Theatre

Repertory Theatre is a year-long class. Actor’s Studio is a prerequisite. This class requires the ability to utilize all theatrical skills that have been learned in previous years as students produce plays drawing from the resources of their fellow classmates (not open auditions). Students are also introduced into the wonderful, and often messy, world of stage makeup and the art of directing.

Advanced Repertory Theatre

Advanced Repertory Theatre is a year-long class. Repertory Theatre is a prerequisite. Advanced Repertory gives students the opportunity to produce and direct plays with other highly experienced thespians.

Facilities

The Northwest Auditorium was, in dedication to Gregory Parker, renamed the Parker Auditorium in 1999. It is a 1,250-seat theatre that features a thrust stage, a fully-functional scene shop, a projection booth, and a costume closet. There is also a more intimate proscenium-stage theatre, properly named the "Little Theatre," in which most of the classes and the small-scale, class-oriented repertory productions are held. It seats about 120 people.

Greg Parker was the theatre teacher and director at SMNW for seventeen years, from 1973 until he died in 1991.