Saturday, December 9, 2023

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St. Thomas More celebrates 25th anniversary of musical drama productions with Beauty and the Beast

Lansing student Olivia Mack plays lead character Belle this weekend

MUNSTER, Ind. (November 15, 2023) – Twenty-five years ago, when Director Angelica Lorandos Van Manen began the musical drama program at St. Thomas More Elementary School in Munster, IN, her goal was to introduce the students to “real theatre.” Her expectations for them included learning proper theatre terminology and learning how to record stage blocking in the books. Eventually lighting system was donated to the school, allowing for even more students to become involved in the technical aspects of theatre.

The musical drama program at St. Thomas More will stage Beauty and the Beast on November 16–19. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

Currently 115 students are involved in the musical drama program: 70 students are on stage and the remainder are students involved in lighting, spotlights, set painting, backstage crew, and costume crew. This year’s Beauty and the Beast production includes 5th through 8th grade students.

Eighth-grade student Olivia Mack of Lansing snagged the leading female role of Belle. She began performing in St. Thomas More musicals in the fourth grade and has performed in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Moana, and Honk. Another eighth-grade student who has actively participated in drama is Iris Tolnai of Lansing, who is happy to be a part of the village chorus in this production.

Olivia Mack, of Lansing, plays the female lead role of Belle. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)
Iris Tolnai, of Lansing, is part of the village chorus in the production. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

The Beauty and the Beast cast will be performing six shows in four days. Thursday morning is a performance for the school; Friday morning is a performance for outlying schools, where the admission fee will be canned goods donated to the community food pantry. Open to the public are evening performances at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 16; Friday, November 17; and Saturday, November 18, as well as a Sunday 2 p.m. matinee performance on November 19. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

St. Thomas More is located at 8435 Calumet Avenue, Munster, IN.


Jennifer Yos
Jennifer Yos
Jennifer Yos grew up on Walter Street in Lansing with nine siblings. She attended St. Ann’s School and T.F. South, and she earned a BA in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a MS in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Francis, Joliet. For 34 years she taught English, as well as Creative Writing and Drama, at Lincoln-Way High School. She dabbled in freelance journalism for the Joliet Herald News Living section. Now retired, Jennifer appreciates the opportunity to write for The Lansing Journal and is uplifted by the variety of positive people she has already met who are making a difference in Lansing.