The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Interesting, Challenging and Loving


Senior Marlee Bell discusses her Northwest theatre experience and what she will miss the most about it

Q: What interested you to join theatre in the first place?

A: I’ve always been interested in performing. I did dance and cheer as a kid, and I have always loved getting up in front of crowds and performing. Then, in my eighth grade year, I auditioned for “Fiddler on the Roof” at Trailridge middle school, but instead I was offered to be in “Les Miserables” here at Northwest. So instead of doing “Fiddler on the Roof” I came to Northwest and played Little Eponine. And from that moment, I kind of knew this is where I wanted to be. This was the group I wanted to spend my high school career with. Plus, my sister had been a part of the program all four years, and I knew she found such a permanent home with it. I was like, “You know? This is where I want to be. I want that feeling too.”


Q: What was it like doing your first musical at Northwest?


A: “Les Miserables” was a very strange experience for me. Being the timid little eighth grader I was, I didn’t know who to talk to or where to go or what to do at all. I was terrified of all the high school kids. They were the scariest thing in the world to me. Then coming and doing “Cabaret” my freshman year, I felt a little more comfortable. That’s when I realized, “Oh these people are fine. They aren’t that scary.” I remember one of the first days of rehearsing, I was partnered with a senior named Trey Edwards for one of the dance numbers. I’m sure at that moment I had pure terror in my eyes. I was like, “Oh my gosh. He is a senior, I am a freshman. I am going to die.” But he made me feel right at home. I have called him my dad ever since. He definitely helped me out in my first high school musical.


Q: What is your first memory of being on stage?


A: One of my first memories is from competitive dancing. I just remember loving putting on the costumes and going on stage being all sassy. I was always one of the girls with the biggest facials, too. It was always such a thrill with cheer and dance. Knowing that people did that for a living, especially with theatre, how people got to create other people, was the coolest thing in the world to me. I was so jealous. I was just sitting there hoping I could try it and decided it was something I wanted to do at some point in my life.


Q: What drives you to keep going when you face challenges?


A: It’s definitely the people around me. Like if I don’t feel comfortable with a song or a role, they are the ones to pick me back up and tell me that I can do this. For the role Essie in “You Can’t Take it with You,” I was getting really, really nervous, but the people around me comforted me a lot. And for “Working,” my song was really worrying me. I had never been given a solo before, so I was really nervous. But our vocal director, Debbie , talked me through it and definitely made me feel like I was doing well and like I deserved to be confident. All of the support that this program has for each other is definitely what keeps me going and what helps me through my challenges.


Q: Describe your experience in the Northwest theatre program in three words.


A: Interesting, challenging, and loving.


Q: What lesson will you take with you from the program into the real world?


A: Gumption. It’s the fact that I am not scared to get up and talk to people. Like I have never been the type to be too shy to get up and speak in front of people. Ms. Rodgers has taught me that if you want something in life, you have to go get it for yourself. You cannot wait for someone else to do it for you and you have to have the gumption to go do the things you want to do. You have to believe that you can do it and then work hard for yourself. That is the biggest lesson I have learned here, and the lessons that I have learned here are ones that I will actually take with me throughout my life. I am forever grateful to Ms. Rodgers for that because she has taught me more than any other teacher has ever been able to teach me.


Q: How was being in your last musical?


A: “Working” was different. When the show was first announced, I think we all kind of took a step back. We didn’t know what it was. It was a different musical that we had never heard of. But, after we started getting into it, we all opened up and the show started to become a show. It started to become so fun and real. Then show nights came. It all came so fast to me and I honestly can’t believe that it is over. Just knowing that I took my last bow on that stage on Saturday night is surreal to me. I remember during my freshman year watching the seniors crying after their last performance and wondering, “Why are they all crying? I don’t get it.” Each year I got more and more emotional because they started becoming my friends. This year I am the one that’s leaving. I have spent endless hours here. I cannot imagine my life without the theatre program and all my friends here and all of the support. To know that that will all be gone in a month is honestly really scary. Before our last show, Maddie Munsey, who was a freshman on sound crew, came up to me and just started crying because she said she was going to miss me so much. Knowing I had made that kind of an impact on her, even though I have only known her for a short time, means a lot to me. I know that if I ever need anything, I have the family I met here. I really am going to miss just standing on that stage performing because it is such a thrill and such a rush. I wish that everyone got to experience it at one time or another. I am truly so thankful for everything that this program has done for me, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it for the world.


Q: What will you miss the most about Ms. Rodgers?


A: Honestly, I will miss her sass. After four years here, I have realized that it’s all out of love… As much as she is a tough teacher, she dishes out the most love. I will also really miss her laugh. I love her laugh.


Q: What was it like to win the Gypsy Robe?The Gypsy Robe is an award given to one senior in each mainstage show from the last senior to get it. The tradition started when a chorus girl on broadway wanted to wish her friend luck but could not afford a gift, so she gave her a bathrobe with a piece of show memorabilia attached. This became a Broadway tradition and has been a Northwest tradition for many years. There are four robes that have circulated the Northwest theatre program that are displayed at the entrance to the Greg Parker Auditorium. Each recipient writes their speech in the book that goes along with the colorful robe and attaches something to remember the show by. Bell received the robe during working. It is a very prestigious honor and always goes to a senior that has shown perseverance, excellence, and utmost respect for their craft.A: I did not think I would get it. But, once I realized it was me, my eyes filled with tears. To get it from one of my best friends, who has been by my side since day one, was just amazing. We made promises freshman year that we would always be by each other in this troupe, and that has definitely happened. Knowing that I was getting it from her meant a lot to me. I read through the whole book after I got the robe, and it was so surreal. To see that we all feel the same way about this theatre program and the people in it, even after all these years, is just amazing. This program has given us so much, and we cannot take it for granted. I realized that I am the next one who has to sign the book and write my thoughts about the program, and to think I could be chosen for this is so surreal to me.

  • “Les Miserables” – Cast
  • “Cabaret” – Cast
  • “Noah and the Dreams” – Usher
  • “Night Must Fall” – Costumes Crew
  • “Black Comedy” and “The Real Inspector Hound” – Costumes Crew
  • “The Fantasticks” – Costumes Crew
  • “Thoroughly Modern Millie” – Cast
  • “The Diviners” – Costumes Crew
  • “Gypsy” – Cast
  • “The Good Doctor” – Costumes Crew
  • “Anything Goes” – Cast
  • “Christmas Celebration” – Cast
  • “Crimes of the Heart” – Costumes Crew
  • “Dames at Sea” – Crew
  • “Marcus is Walking” – Crew
  • “The Night of January 16th” – Costumes
  • “Little Shop of Horrors” – Cast
  • “Charlie Brown Christmas” – Cast
  • “You Can’t Take it with You” – Cast
  • “Working” – Cast
  • “Story Theatre” – Costumes Crew
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Interesting, Challenging and Loving