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CCHS drama alumni reunite, reminisce

  • Long time CCHS drama director Linda Brant talks with former students Saturday as several CCHS drama alum held a reunion. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • CCHS dram alumni check out some "cringe-worthy" photos in scrapbooks at a reunion Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • CCHS drama alumni reunite and reminisce Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • CCHS drama alumni reunited on Saturday. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Some of them could still remember their lines.

Several Charles City High School Drama alumni got together Saturday to reunite, with a reception in the afternoon at the Zastrow Room of the Charles City Library and an “adults only” get-together in the evening at the Elks Lodge.

“It makes me so happy to see them remain friends after all these decades,” said longtime CCHS drama director Linda Brant. “I tell them, to me, they’re all 18 years old.”

Drama alumni from the years between 1980 and 2017 attended, and Brant said the attendees came from at least 10 different states.

“We had a reunion when I retired in 2010, and we wanted to do it again, so we set it up and I brought the scrapbooks,” Brant said. “When we did this in 2010, there was someone from every play I had directed at CCHS from 1980 to 2010.”

The alumni browsed yearbooks full of “cringe-worthy” pictures, and the afternoon event included an ice cream sundae bar and other treats, along with lots of old stories about things that went on in front of and behind the red curtain.

Jennifer Jacob, Class of ’96, said she was involved with every show at CCHS from her freshman year until graduation. She is now a theatrical costumer in New York City. She works as a design associate both on and off Broadway, and also works in the costume department at the Metropolitan Opera.

“It is so great to see so many of these people. These were all my friends in high school,” Jacob said. “We weren’t necessarily all in the same grade, so we didn’t get to see each other at standard class reunions.”

Brant said there is a Charles City drama alumni group on Facebook with more than 350 people who keep in touch that way. She posts pictures from their high school theater days on their birthdays.

“We’ve been talking through the wonders of the internet, about how we hadn’t gotten together since 2010, and we just made it happen,” Jacob said. “There’s a lot of people here who I haven’t seen since we graduated, so that’s really great.”

Jacob said her first show with a speaking part was when she was 10 with the Stony Point Players, and then she talked her way into running spotlight for high school drama when she was in seventh grade. She said the most memorable high school productions for her were “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Sweeney Todd” — a show in which she did special effects and was stage manager.

Mike Lembke, a ’94 grad, is now head speech director and a drama director at Charles City High School. He is classically trained in Shakespeare and spent much of his 20s just traveling and working with repertory theater.

“It’s good to see all these faces,” he said. “It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s fun. I can’t stop smiling.”

Lembke said the first show he was in was “The Man Who Came To Dinner.” He said his father “wouldn’t let me go out for stuff” his freshman year, so he had to sneak out to go to rehearsals, “but it soon became a staple in my life.”

Suzanne Hendrix-Case, a ’97 grad, just accepted a position as assistant professor of voice and vocalogy at Northern Iowa.

“I think a lot of my stage experience was from my time in high school drama,” she said. “Really, most of what I use when I’m acting I learned from Linda. She was definitely a major impact on my life.”

Hendrix-Case, a mezzo-soprano who has performed with the prestigious Metropolitan Opera in New York City, was previously at Morningside as assistant professor of music. She has been a part of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vienna State Opera and San Francisco Opera, among others.

“This reunion is great, because class reunions only cover one year,” she said. “I spent a lot of time with people in the drama club, and they were from a whole bunch of different years.”

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