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September 23rd, 2023

elemental spotlight pageA scene from the upcoming Pixar film “Elemental.” The film is one of many expected in theaters this coming summer season Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


A new season is upon the area, which means it is also time for a new season with a full slate of new movies. 

Backing up slightly, Mitchell Theaters owner Brian Mitchell said the fall and winter was a good time for the movie business. 

“Fall was when we started REALLY getting a good slate of movies again, but starting at Thanksgiving and then throughout the winter, there was a bit of a dip. We did have a few particular hits during that time including 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' and 'Avatar: The Way of Water,' but we did notice a dip during that time period, which happens,” Mitchell said. “Then it was about February and March when we started seeing some stronger releases and started seeing higher numbers with the movie, and I would say that all started with 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie,' that was HUGE for us. We met our expectations, but we didn't really have sky-high expectations this time around because we were still waiting on some pandemic-delayed movie releases, so our schedule wasn't as full as usual, which meant we had some slower weekends because of the lack of strong product. That first weekend in March, when we had those three big releases, that restarted the trend of us getting two or three new movies per week for our customers like what we'd seen before. We had movies like 'Creed III' and 'John Wick: Chapter 4' and some others that REALLY over-performed, which showed us people still want to get out and go to the movies when there are good ones in the theaters.”

cinderella and stepsisters spotlightCinderella (Dennise Garcia Bautista) is stuck doing the work of her stepfamily (Shiaa Dunlap, Hope Bradford and Khloe Rodriguez) in a recent rehearsal for Eisenhower Middle School’s upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella.’ L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Drama students throughout USD 480 have been showing off their skills in the past few weeks and soon, that showcase of skills will continue. 

The Eisenhower Middle School musical theatre class and choir students will be performing the youth version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Cinderella,' with performances taking place May 2 at 6:30 p.m. and May 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Eisenhower Middle School cafeteria. Tickets are $5 per person, with children 5 and under free, and people will need to come in through the back entrance. The show is based on the famous fairytale and follows a young woman forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepfamily, who dreams of a better life. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is transformed into a princess and finds her prince on a life-changing night.

“We've had this musical theatre class available for a while and we implemented the class in order to help build that bigger bridge to the Liberal High School Drama department. We started the class and we've done some cabaret-style concerts where the students have performed songs from different musicals,” Director Timothy Smith said. “However, I noticed this year, our enrollment numbers were lower than in the past, so I thought 'What's a way we can jazz it up and make the class a bit more entertaining and draw more students in?' to which the response was 'How about we actually do a musical?' So I started researching and thinking about what kind of show we could do based on the students I had enrolled and the numbers and all of that. 'Cinderella' ultimately fit that bill and it's also a story everyone knows and has enjoyed for years. And a great thing about this show is we're collaborating with the choir, so we've actually got a pretty big cast with everyone who's involved.”

lhs drama rehearsalLuis Rivera Rede (left) and Lance Bickerstaff rehearse a scene from the upcoming LHS “The Importance of Being Earnest” production. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


USD 480 will have no shortage of entertainment this month, with Cottonwood Elementary School presenting “Shrek: The Musical Jr.” later this month and next week, Liberal High School will be presenting the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde on April 21, 22 and 23, with evening performances being April 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. and a matinee performance being at 2 p.m. April 23. All performances will be in Maskus Auditorium at Liberal High School and tickets are $3. 

The play follows two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their boring lives and  attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. Throughout the show, they struggle to keep up with their own stories and ultimately become tangled in misadventure, and there are a couple small subplots to also keep up with. The play also makes fun of some of the British aristocracy and different societal codes that were around when the play was originally written in 1895. Director Miriam Climenhaga said putting the show together has been a great time. 

“We've had a shorter rehearsal period this time around, which has been a little harder for us, but the cast has really been having fun and working really hard. The cast is also somewhat smaller than I usually have, there are seven speaking roles and a few non-speaking roles,” Climenhaga said. “Being a smaller ensemble allows everyone to get to know each other better and come up with some of their own little twists on the characters. Since the show takes place in England, the students have also had a lot of fun working on their British accents, which has been fun to watch. The students have also had fun tapping into the show's humor, they weren't entirely sure about it when they started since it is an older show and humor was a lot different back then, and that's also been really fun to watch.”