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Young Performers From Ladue High Chase Their Dreams

Four seniors in Ladue High School's spring musical plan on continuing in the arts after graduating.

A group of seniors in 's cast of are aiming for the stars.

When asked to name students performing in the spring musical Feb. 24-26 who are going on to careers in the arts, director Janine Burmeister mentioned four young talents: Margi Nuetzel (Millie in the play), Maggie Knoedelseder (Mrs. Meers), Jake Wallach (Bun Foo) and Cassidy Flynn (Jimmy).

Each of these upperclassmen took some time out of their Friday afternoon rehearsal to fill in Patch on their big plans for the future.

Margie Nuetzel

The star of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Nuetzel is showing a lot of promise. Her stirring rendition of "" is likely to bring down the house. 

As an actress and a singer, Nuetzel had an important choice to make in deciding which type of college programs to apply for: the track for actors or the track for musicians. Although she loves both, Nuetzel decided on music and on becoming an educator rather than a professional singer.

"I definitely wanted to do something with music because I've done it my whole life and can't imagine not doing it," Nuetzel said. "I like working with kids, and I'd like to teach in high school."

She has enjoyed taking on leadership roles, from babysitting to being a camp counselor for sixth graders. Nuetzel is a member of the Link Crew, a group of Ladue High upperclassmen who help freshmen transition into high school.

In college, Nuetzel would like to continue singing. The challenge of excelling at classical voice work such as operas and arias piques her interest. 

"Singing is just really fun for me," she said.

Maggie Knoedelseder

Like Nuetzel, Knoedelseder can act and sing, but she favors acting.

"I've been acting since elementary school," she said. "I was kind of born into theatre."

Her father, Kurt Knoedelseder, was the Ladue High School theatre director prior to Janine Burmeister, who is now in her sixth year at the post. Knoedelseder's uncle has been in Broadway productions such as Cats, Les Miserables and The Civil War and has performed as part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Knoedelseder is currently in the process of applying for college programs to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. After college, she plans to move to Los Angeles to grab her share of the limelight in television and Hollywood films.

The art of acting speaks to her on a personal level.

"I just read a script and try to get into (a character's) mindset and try to think how they think," she said. "I like the challenge of becoming someone completely different."

Cassidy Flynn

Flynn is another member of the Thoroughly Modern Millie cast who plans on making a career of acting. Preferring not to limit his scope of interest, Flynn is equally open to acting on Broadway or appearing on the silver screen.

"I just really like being able to wrap my head around the literature and performing a character," Flynn said.

Flynn awaits word from a number of higher education programs for actors, including Missouri State, Columbia College in Chicago, DePaul University and the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.

In the meantime, Flynn keeps busy with the upcoming musical, as well as the high school improv comedy troupe known as DueProv. Comedy holds a special place in Flynn's heart, and his influences include the players in Saturday Night Live. 

"I really love to be a part of something where people have been entertained," he said.

Jake Wallach

In addition to performing onstage, Wallach enjoys working behind the scenes -- playwrighting to be specific. 

"I'm always busy thinking about a scene's subtext. Then I miss my entrance," Wallach said.

A creative writer from a young age, Wallach enjoys the performative aspect of writing plays. Seeing one's work interpreted by an actor can bring new meaning to a written piece, he said.

Representatives from the International Thespian Society chose a one-act play Wallach wrote to be performed by students at the Missouri state conference last fall.

Wallach has applied to a broad range of college programs. Although plays are his favorite writing form, and he hopes to be accepted by Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, he also sent applications to the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and to the Mizzou School of Journalism.

"I want to broaden my horizons," Wallach said. "For the last couple of decades, the written word has been flourishing due to new technology."

Thoroughly Modern Millie opens in Ladue High School's auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7pm. Tickets cost $10 and go on sale a week before the first performance. Be sure to catch the critical review on Ladue-Frontenac Patch.

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