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Musical gets new Director

Brendan Sheehan l Associate Editor

An avid Charles Dickens lover and an International Thespian Society alumna, “Oliver!” director Tara Pohlkotte plans to bring the magic of 19th century London to the Cedar Crest stage.

Replacing previous director Martha Pierce, this is Pohlkotte’s first musical production at the high school.

Prior to “Oliver!,” Pohlkotte directed the fall plays for the past two years. She made her directorial debut in 2021 with the production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Pohlkotte also assistant-directed the spring musical productions at the middle school for the past three years and prior to that did several productions in her home state of Wisconsin.

Despite working in many different environments with students of all age levels, Pohlkotte describes working at the high school level as being multi-faceted, combining the elements of a live orchestra, dance routines and elevated singing abilities.

“The heart of it is the same to me,” said Pohlkotte. “It’s to tell that story and to find that connection—but it’s fun when there’s songs involved.”

Pohlkotte is working alongside her husband Jason, who is managing tech and set design for the show, and the former Pierce, who is working on music. Pohlkotte feels that working with Pierce has had a positive impact on the experience.

“I haven’t really thought of it as a comparison as much as a continuation and a really fun way to work together,” said Pohlkotte.

Her children, junior Owen and freshman Ava, are also in the production with Owen playing supporting character Fagin and Ava playing Bet.

“It’s nothing different to me because she’s my mom,” said Owen Pohlkotte. “I’ve always known her to do this, so nothing has really changed.”

Despite having that full-family theater connection while working on the set of “Oliver!,” Pohlkotte maintains a professional and constructive relationship with her kids as their director.

“It’s fun to work with them, but I don’t think it’s different than working with the other kids,” said Pohlkotte.

In fact, Pohlkotte has worked with many of the show’s underclassmen at the middle school.

“With having so many of these students since they were like 10, I feel like they are kind of my own,” said Pohlkotte.

Pohlkotte describes the true “magic” of theater in the chemistry between the cast and hard work paying off on opening night.

“There’s that minute when the lights first go down and you say ‘Yeah, they did it,’” said Pohlkotte. “That’s what makes it all worth it.”

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