Jake Lohrke and Sam Ovens have had life-changing involvement in theater and band

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Jake Lohrke and Sam Ovens have had life-changing involvement in theater and band

Susannah Bennett and Maria Devroy

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Jake Lohrke astounds FHC with the lead role in the spring musical

By: Maria Devroy

“I knew they were considering me, but I never expected to get it,” said senior Jake Lohrke on auditions for this year’s musical.

On a whim, Jake tried out for FHC’s musical Little Shop of Horrors with the expectation of possibly a part in the chorus; instead, he came out with the lead role and a new-found passion.

But while most other kids were wrecked with trepidation and anxiety over the chance of not making a part, Jake felt he had nothing to lose in his last year at FHC and was confident, or at least feigned confidence, in his final chance at being in an FHC theater production.

“I wasn’t nervous that first night, but callbacks were a little bit scarier. That first night wasn’t scary because I didn’t think I was going to get in,” Jake said. “So, I went up there and I just started singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ to everybody. And everybody started laughing because I didn’t realize I was doing this because I had my eyes closed, but apparently, I was dancing.”

After the first audition, Jake had no notion of belief that he was being considered for any part really, but he was sent back to be analyzed again at callbacks the next day.

The next day, Jake came back for callbacks in the assumption that he was being considered for a part in the chorus. Just like everyone else who made callbacks, he went through the motions of auditions, one of them being singing in front of everybody.

“The first time I sang that day, I was singing a song for the dentist, which I didn’t even get because they weren’t considering me for Seymour,” Jake said. “I sang the dentist song and the entire room hushed, and then Mrs. DeMeester started laughing, and then she started cheering. Then, I stopped and the entire place roared in cheering and clapping; it was the most terrifying thing of my life.”

After this eye-opening experience, Jake came to the realization that they were considering him for a larger role than just being in the chorus. He noticed that he was being watched by a significant amount by the leaders of the musical, and it became evident to them that he was the fit for Seymour.

“Decisions are always hard for choosing roles, but for this one we just kind of knew,” Assistant Student Director Kaley Kaminski said. “There was just something that felt right.”

Although he easily set himself into the role of Seymour this year, things weren’t so simplistic for him in years’ past. Jake has always been interested in musical and tried out his freshman or sophomore year for the spring musical, but unfortunately wasn’t ready to be a part of the production, as he didn’t make it in those years. Recently, he has had the support from his friend Sam Ovens and the new-found confidence gained from the Jazz Band.

I just wanted to try it and I’ve been having way too much fun.”

— Jake Lohrke

Sam Ovens has been a close friend of Jake’s for six years now and has been a part of the theater program for four of the six, allowing him to be able to teach Jake a thing or two on how to act and handle himself during auditions. And having a close friend of his by his side during something as nerve-wracking as performing in front of a crowd was a huge help in making his transition into theater that much easier.

Through trial and trepidation, Jake found his happy place in the most unexpected of places.

“I just wanted to try it,” Jake said, “and I’ve been having way too much fun.”

Sam Ovens found himself through band and theater

By: Susannah Bennett

A humorous, goofy smile. A jazzy, blasting trumpet solo. A theatrical, comic relief. The name that belongs to that distinctive character is senior Sam Ovens. With both his witty performances and passion for working hard, Sam shines most brightly in some of FHC’s biggest visual performing arts programs.

“Sam really cares. He cares about being a good person, a good musician, and a good student,” band director Robert Ash said. “As a teacher, especially a band director, what more could you ask for?”

The long hours of practicing and working hard for both band and theater can be strenuous, but Sam meets that challenge head-on, motivated by the prospect of being better and inspiring others around him. With his positive attitude and will to be his best self, Sam encourages those around him by showing how dedication pays off and showing enthusiasm for his passions.

“Sam has a great ear and a desire to play at a high level,” Ash said. “He is constantly listening to music and has a knack for inspiring students to get excited about the music that excites him.”

In each of the three band programs that he’s involved in, Sam conveys that passion in different ways by showing those around him how much can be achieved if hard work is involved. Jazz Band, Sam’s favorite band class, is full of random solo opportunities, and it offers a vast amount opportunities to lead the group through a strong lead trumpet. By participating at such a high level in band, Sam has been able to lead and play the part as a role model for fellow students.

“Even though I wasn’t a section leader the year before, I really got a chance to lead by example,” Sam said. “And this year, I got to lead as a leader because I was in a leadership position.

With his strong trumpet skills and a great worth ethic, Sam can inspire those around him whether they are in the band or not. Through theater, he’s also influencing many people, including both his fellow cast members and the audience watching each show. The word most commonly associated with Sam is energy, which on stage, translates into great rehearsals and performances.

Sam really cares. He cares about being a good person, a good musician, and a good student”

— Robert Ash

“[I love his] energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to try anything. He’s always happy. He’s never moody or grumpy, or if he is, he doesn’t bring that to rehearsal,” theater director Robbin Demeester said. “I see a guy who comes in who’s happy, ready to work, and willing to try new things.”

Energized by the crowds, Sam is perfect for the outgoing characters that he plays in both the plays and the musicals. Although it can be difficult to play such a wide variety of characters and still be yourself, Sam still puts in as much effort as he can to play the role, and he even does it with a smile.

“The thing that has been interesting about Sam’s journey is that he has had a lot of different types of roles. Usually, we’ll get a student who’s a good actor [and] can play one role well,” Demeester said. “He is a versatile actor. Mr. Black, [our choreographer], and I both push to try different types of things, and the more he tries different things, the more we can envision him in different roles.”

However, Sam wasn’t always this extroverted. In fact, he only really stepped out of his shell to become theatrical during his sophomore year. After being convinced to join theater by Demeester, Sam joined timidly and then began to develop into the confident and hilarious actor he is now.

“I definitely credit theater to his extraversion and open mind,” Sam’s girlfriend Marlee Talbot said. “Band has also provided him fantastic leadership opportunities. His extracurriculars have really helped come into his own.”

The confidence he gained from his leadership and from being the comic relief really made him step out of his shell and become more social and energetic. Without that involvement in band and theater, Sam truly wouldn’t be the man that he is today, and that change is evident to everyone around him.

“Sam stands out from other students in his wit, kind heart, and his versatility,” Marlee said. “He has branched out since I met him and become friends with many different groups and types of people at FHC, which is really cool.”

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