There were 140 acts that made up the strenuous tryout, one audition every five minutes. Over the course of twelve and a half hours, directors determined who would earn the opportunity to participate in the 2011 GBS Variety Show. With that phase completed, over 400 kids are given less than three months to prepare for a show hosting over 7,000 people. Leaving everything out on the stage, these kids are in the midst of creating what will be, for the majority of them, the biggest show of their lives.
“Everybody comes to see this show,” Director Stevie Marks said. “We want it to tell a great story, and feature students in a really wonderful way. We want people to leave thinking that these kids are truly incredible. That makes me feel like it’s both the most wonderful job in the world, and the scariest.”
Every year the Variety Show takes on a different theme, but the overall traditional purpose of the show has never changed.
“It was created to be a winter Homecoming, and still sort of is that way now,” Marks said. “Alums come back and the community comes together. […] The purpose is to highlight the extraordinary talent that we have here and to show the depth and breadth of the student experience.”
This year, the performance will celebrate the 50th anniversary of GBS. There will be videos celebrating the history of GBS, as well as Speakers to serve as segways throughout the show, according to Student Activities Director Dr. Jim Shellard. These parts of the performance will serve as merely transitions, and will take no time away from the student acts. Marks describes that a key element of this year’s Variety Show will be the demonstration of the positive impact that being a Titan has made on the lives of GBS alumni.
“[…] We can’t be where we are without the past,” Marks said. “The student body should be really proud to be here and proud to be a Titan. What happened 50 years ago really is relevant in our lives because it makes us who we are today. A lot of the traditions that were started a long time ago, […] are so much still a part of our culture now.”
Before the show itself, there will be a Gayla event February 25th that will hopefully bring more alumni to the show. The celebration will include a luncheon with an array of speeches. There will also be a ceremony to open the 1987 time capsule completely, as well as seal a new 2012 time capsule that day. The Variety Show will then serve as a separate finale for the alumni who participate in these pre-game anniversary festivities.
“The Variety Show is a time when people can come back who remember the school fondly, were in it, or just want to celebrate the school,” Shellard said. “So, every year it serves that purpose. The 50th just adds a kick to it.”
Marks notes that the true variety of this show really demonstrates the amount of talent we have at this school. Just as Marks points out that each member of the audience takes away something different from the show based on their particular field of interest, Shellard adds that there are many things that students can take away from their time here at South.
“A lot of students leave this school having experienced a broad range of things, through athletics, activities and academics,” Shellard said. “When they get to college and start talking to other people who have had other high school experiences, they go back and reflect on their great experience at Glenbrook South High School.”
The evolution of the show is similar to the development of student knowledge at GBS in that high quality adult guidance leads to the production of stellar results, according to Shellard.
“Rich Winship in the auditorium has an incredible amount of knowledge about theatre stagecraft, lighting and how to build sets,” Shellard said. “Mr. Sirvatka and Mrs. Marks are the choral directors and they help to coordinate all the music that is in the show. […] The choreographer of singer dancers, for example, choreographs professionally in the city of Chicago. […] You’re going to get the best of the best because you have great people working at it.
Chris Polmanski, a member of stage crew for all of his four years at South, shares that each group’s ability to get their work done directly effects the rest of the show.
“Everything is knitted together,” Polmanski said. “Without the acts, there wouldn’t be any scene changes. Without the set there wouldn’t be a scene. Everything is there for a purpose. We all have to work together, not just crew. […] It’s a group effort.”
Marks describes each individual student’s burning desire to produce great quality work.
“When it gets tough, when kids get tired, we ask a lot,” Marks said. “The kids [have] to dig deep inside and bring something new today. They’ve got to fix what they did yesterday. […] Each student really takes that moment to sometimes step outside of themselves to think, ‘If I did this, I could do so much better’.”
Strength is not only developed in the individual, but also built in the community.
“We find the strength in community because each person is doing their part and when it comes together, it’s way more dynamic,” Marks said. “They start to put it together and are supported by each other. They really learn about the strength of unity and the power of that. […] It goes back to the same thing we’re trying to celebrate about GBS.”
The ultimate leader of our school, Principal Wegley, believes that this Variety Show in particular is going to be very special, considering the rare opportunity.
“[…] It’ll be an event that won’t be repeated for another twenty five years,” Principal Wegley said. “It’s cool that we’re all here to do this. I hope that people really take advantage and take it seriously. Let’s show what Glenbrook South is really all about to those who do come back.”