Stage veteran lands TMP lead
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Except for the braces on his teeth, it's hard to tell Cody Kreutzer is a 15-year-old sophomore.
Kreutzer, who has performed in more than 20 musicals and/or plays the past seven years, got over stage fright a long time ago.
His experience belies his age, and Kreutzer was chosen for the lead male role in this year's fall production at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, oftentimes a privilege given to upperclassmen.
Curtain time for the "Anything Goes" musical is 7 p.m. Thursday and Nov. 2 and 2 p.m. Nov. 4, all in the TMP auditorium. Tickets are $7 per person and can be reserved by calling the school at (785) 625-6577 or can be bought at the door.
"He's a veteran of the stage already," director Travis Grizzell said of Kreutzer, who performed in his first musical at age 8.
That was back in the summer of 2005 with the Heartland Community Theatre, and Kreutzer said there is a difference between community theater and high school productions.
No matter, because this is Kreutzer's fifth TMP musical, having performed during his fourth-, seventh- and eighth-grade years as well as last year.
Grizzell, longtime actor and board member with Heartland Community Theatre, said he noticed Kreutzer, from little on, was a special talent.
"For a kid that age, it's about getting out there and not having stage fright," Grizzell said. "He's always liked getting out there on stage and performing."
Even with all that experience, Kreutzer said he is looking forward to his first lead role as Billy Crocker in "Anything Goes," a love story that takes place on an ocean liner bound for London from New York. Kreutzer, alias Crocker, is a stowaway in love with an heiress who is engaged to another man.
"This is different for me this year," said Kreutzer, who played a crazy old man in last year's musical, "Murder at Coppersmith Inn."
"But we have a really good group," he added. "Everybody is really willing to work. It's been a lot of fun."
Senior Emily Leiker, who also got her start in community theater, agreed.
"There's a different atmosphere in high school," she said. "There are a lot of people your own age to bond with. We have a really young group this year, but there's some experience there, too."
Leiker -- who plays Evangeline Harcourt, a wealthy American widow, in "Anything Goes" -- is another veteran in this year's TMP cast, as is Adam Flax. Like Kreutzer, Flax is a sophomore who was in several community theater performances before entering high school. Also like Kreutzer, Flax has a main role in this year's production, playing Moonface Martin, a gangster.
"I started using some of those kids really young (at TMP)," said Grizzell, in his fourth year as TMP's director, "because I had seen their talent in community theater."
While the big bulk of the cast is sophomores and freshmen, as well as several junior high students, Grizzell said he still counts on experience from older students such as Leiker and classmate Kade Megaffin.
Megaffin originally had decided not to participate in the musical this year because he went out for football for the first time since his freshman season.
But when TMP came up short a character, Grizzell knew right where to turn.
"(Kade Megaffin) was hanging around practice, there to pick up his younger brother," Grizzell said of Trae Megaffin, one of five seventh-graders in the musical. "We were still needing a guy for a part and convinced him to step in."
"People will probably wonder why he has such a small part," Grizzell said of Kade Megaffin, who plays a minister in the musical. "But he helped us out in a pinch. He is only on stage for about a minute, but you can't do without (the part) because of the plot. And it's just great having him around."