Hilliard Northwest News

The Giver

Bradley to stage 'intense' dystopian story Feb. 7-8

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(From left) Jordan Marschhausen, Megan Hennes, Joey Moore, Greg Kembitzky, Shawn Lawhead, Kelsey Roberts and Megan Ashbrook rehearse for Hilliard Bradley High School's Feb. 7-8 production of The Giver .
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Hilliard Bradley High School drama students will present The Giver at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8 at the high school, 2800 Walker Road.

Tickets will be $6 at the door or may be purchased in advance at localevelevents.com.

For the first time in a Bradley production, an adult will be among the cast.

Greg Kembitzky, director of the drama department at Davidson High School, is cast in the title role of the Giver.

Director Kate Carney said the production requires a significant age difference between the Giver and the lead role, an 11-year-old boy named Jonas.

Carney said she chose her mentor, Kembitzky, who directed Carney when she was a student at Davidson.

"This will be the first time I will be directing someone who once directed me," Carney said.

Carney said she chose The Giver as Bradley's winter production because of its literary quality and familiarity to students.

"Each year, Bradley's theater program considers curricular texts from our district's courses to include in our season," Carney said.

The 1993 novel by Lois Lowry won the Newberry Medal and is a staple of many elementary and middle school classrooms in the district, she said.

Bradley's actors are using a script adapted from the novel, she said.

Senior Shawn Lawhead is cast as Jonas.

"It's an intense show, but (it has) really good messages," Lawhead said.

The novel describes a dystopian society in which 12-year-old children are assigned jobs based on skill levels and acumen, assigned a spouse and become members of a structured "community," which first appears to be utopian.

"Jonas lives in a society that knows of no war or no pain ... but also does not know love or compassion," Lawhead said. "He can't see colors."

When he turns 12, Jonas meets the Giver, who shares his memories, both good and bad, said Lawhead, who read the novel last summer in preparation for auditioning for the role.

"I loved the novel," Lawhead said.

Lawhead said he studied his 8-year-old sister to react to situations like an 11-year-old boy might.

"I've tried to not behave as I normally would (as an 18-year-old) to get as much as possible into my character," he said.

Lawhead plans to pursue a career in acting and directing. He said he plans to attend Full Sail University in Florida to study filmmaking.

Other cast members include senior Kayla Snider as the mother; senior Shane Haney as the father; freshman Audrey Schaefer as Lily, Jonas' sister; sophomore Joey Moore as Asher; senior Megan Hennes as Fiona; junior Kelsey Roberts as chief elder; sophomore Grace Hargis as Rosemary; and junior Jersey Dick as the announcer.

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