Youth theater group presenting “15 Reasons Not to Be in a Play”



Maybe you’re shy and don’t like the feeling of being onstage.

Maybe the fear of being onstage causes you to break out in hives. Maybe you’re uncomfortable because your teacher is forcing you to do it. Maybe you’re scared of the criticism that could ensue after the show.

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Maybe you’re a guy and don’t like having to wear makeup. Maybe you feel like you’re the most important person in the show, but you’re devastated when you find out that’s not the case.

These are among the reasons some people don’t like to be in a play. Join the cast of Jackson County Young Artists’ Theatre’s production of “15 Reasons Not to Be in a Play” and follow along as they count the reasons.

The show is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Royal Off-the-Square Theatre, 121 W. Walnut St., Brownstown. Tickets are $8 and may be purchased online at or at the door.

This is a play about not being in a play, ironically expressed through a hilarious series of monologues, duets and ensemble scenes. From early traumas involving a glory-seeking elementary schoolteacher to possible disturbances in the global climate, “15 Reasons Not to Be in a Play” keeps the audience guessing just what scenario will be next.

“There’s not one thing I would choose above the other parts,” Alana Jacobi, 13, a seventh-grader at Seymour Middle School, said. “It’s something that you don’t normally see. It’s different elements of comedy all rolled into one.”

Henry Ulrich, 14, an eighth-grader at Northside Middle School in Columbus, said he likes the variety of comedy in the show.

“It’s not just all deadpan or slapstick. It’s a good mix. In Reason 2, Miss Griswold smacks him, and that’s just unexpected. And then in Reason 10, it’s the gas, and everyone is confused about that,” he said.

“It’s not formal, and so everyone’s doing a really good job with putting in awkward pauses and doing just awkward stuff in general, and then out of nowhere, someone without missing a beat just does this thing, and the crowd goes wild,” he said.

The freedom given to the actors by directors Matt Nieman and Kate Stahl is appreciated.

“It’s very loose. We’ve been given a lot of freedom,” Ulrich said. “We asked if we can do something, and Matt and Kate just go, ‘Sure, that works.’ They keep saying that they like how natural we are onstage because we keep moving around just normally.”

That’s a bonus for Ulrich because he said he is considering a future career in theater, while Jacobi said the freedom has allowed her to make more friendships.

Stahl said the flexibility with the cast has been a positive.

“When we went to cast this, we didn’t intend to cast a group this large, but they had such good auditions,” she said. “We don’t have that flexibility with every script, but this script gave us the flexibility. We could double up if we wanted to, we could cast maybe 10 or we could cast many more, and we ended up casting 21.”

She and Nieman have enjoyed seeing the cast make the show their own.

“We wanted to find something that was going to allow them to do something different than we’ve done in the past and also give them the ownership,” Stahl said. “We wanted it to be a really collaborative-type effort and give them opportunities to step up and really take charge.”

Through rehearsals, Stahl said the young actors have done a great job.

“We’ve got some up there that haven’t really done very much in terms of plays, and then some of those kids have really done a lot of shows,” she said. “That’s really cool that they can learn from each other, too.”

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What: Jackson County Young Artists’ Theatre’s production of “15 Reasons Not to Be in a Play”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Royal Off-the-Square Theatre, 121 W. Walnut St., Brownstown

Tickets: $8; available online at or at the door

Directors: Matt Nieman and Kate Stahl

Cast: Brynn Burton, Jack Charlton, Alana Jacobi, Clare Hauersperger, Therese Hauersperger, Morgan Henry, Emily Keller, Drew Kerkhof, Hannah Kerkhof, Caleb Knollman, Chloe LaVelle, Jonathan Neawedde, Erin Nelson, John Ortman, Addison Otte, Gabriella Parisi, Brady Sawyer, Ava Sharp, Clara Sharp, Dayton Smith and Henry Ulrich

Student director team: Hannah Kerkhof, Erin Nelson and John Ortman


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