By Shavonne Farley, Contributing Writer ‘24

On the 8th, 9th and 10th of this past December, the Indian Hills Theater Company put on a cabaret-style, Broadway-packed show in place of what is typically the fall play, by the name of “No One Is Alone”. This show was a new, yet welcomed change to previous norms for IHTC veterans, and focused heavily on spotlighting all the club has to offer, giving great opportunities to underclassmen and new members. The poignant message of acceptance was strung together meaningfully by thematically relevant showtunes, incredibly engaging dance numbers, and powerful scenes and monologues, some of which were student-written. This show was very much a result of brainstorming by director Ms. Kim Marino, IHTC’s staff and members alike, and that was absolutely evident as a member of the audience. 

From start to finish, the core message of this show was very clear, as well as very relevant, especially for its teenage audience. It painted a vivid picture of how it feels to be lonely, and the power of finding “your people” and working as a team. “The theme ‘No One Is Alone’ is so near and dear to my heart. I am sensitive and aware of the fact that so many students struggle with bullying, trouble making friends, self-confidence, and more,” says Ms. Kim. “The concept of this show is that through theater as an outlet, you will never feel alone. You can make friends with similar interests in a safe and welcoming environment, and hopefully build confidence both on and off the stage.” 

The production’s first half, focused on loneliness, included songs such as “My Corner of the Sky” from Pippin, sung by senior Anthony Masefield, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from American Idiot, a trio number performed by freshman Matthew Khanlian, junior Jebriel Tantawi, and senior Anthony Masefield, and “On My Own” from Les Mis, sung by senior and IHTC president Leah Renshaw. The show then segued into themes of community and solidarity, with numbers such as “Freak Flag” from Shrek, “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen, and to finish the show, “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods – all notably ensemble numbers, spotlighting the new sense of togetherness in the second half of the production. And in a show meant to highlight friendship and self-expression, it was only fitting that the score would be designed so that as many cast members as possible could get their very own moment in the sun. Each number had different members of the cast at the forefront, with everyone getting a chance to sing their heart out, nail an impressive dance move, or deliver a memorable line. Truly, no member was left behind, which really authenticated the message being conveyed onstage. 

This show was also an incredible opportunity to showcase IHTC’s creatives. IHTC President Leah Renshaw, for instance, was responsible for all of the choreography, and her dedication and talent made each dance number stand out. She was extremely steadfast in making sure each dancer was of equal importance onstage, saying, “It was definitely a little bit challenging, because there’s so many different types of dancers and different types of people, and you have to make sure everyone looks good. But going along with the theme ‘No One Is Alone,’ I wanted to make sure that everyone had their moment, and whether you’re a strong dancer or not I think it’s important to have the spotlight and be yourself and do whatever you think is best onstage.” This open mindset she had going into choreographing the show is not only admirable, but made each dance number incredibly unique, as she was able to combine the wide range of styles the dancers were familiar with into cohesive, electric performances, such as their version of “Earth Song/They Don’t Care About Us” from the musical MJ. “The way I set up the dance and the formations were like we were delivering a speech to the people”, Leah said while describing the number. “It was challenging to make a dance that fit such a big idea”.However, the creativity didn’t stop at the choreography. Ms. Kim also gave IHTC a chance to write something of their own for the production. Multiple students responded to this request, including sophomore tech member Charlotte Manning, who delivered with a heartfelt monologue about the power of theater and its ability to bring people together. “As someone who wants to write for the rest of my life and make some sort of career out of it, seeing a piece I had written myself spoken out to an audience was an emotional experience,” Charlotte says. Her monologue was given to junior Deborah Myhren, who perfectly captured the emotion of the piece. The closing lines, “People are good at finding ways to make themselves heard, to try and and try to have others understand. Art is the purest form of communication. It’s a part of us,” encapsulate not only the show’s main idea, but why theater is such a good medium to get that idea across – art brings people together. In speaking to the Indian Hills Theater Company, it was incredibly clear just how much this art form had brought them together in a remarkable way, with students describing it as a “second home,” “like a family to them,” or “the most accepting group of people they know”. It made the production that much more special to know that, even behind the scenes, no one is alone.