The Precedent

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Beyond the school stage

Seniors Emily Woodward-Shaw and Lizzy Jensen take their talents professional at Hale Center Theatre

Seniors Emily Woodward-Shaw and Lizzy Jensen (center) and the cast of

Seniors Emily Woodward-Shaw and Lizzy Jensen (center) and the cast of "No, No, Nanette" perform during the last act.

Nick Woodward-Shaw

Nick Woodward-Shaw

Seniors Emily Woodward-Shaw and Lizzy Jensen (center) and the cast of "No, No, Nanette" perform during the last act.

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For seniors Lizzy Jensen and Emily Woodward-Shaw, the art of theatre has not only become an important cornerstone of their high school identities, but also a getaway from the stressors of AP classes, time management, and much more.

The duo began acting together in the seventh and eighth grades– at Athlos Traditional Academy in Gilbert– in the school’s productions of Aladdin and Annie.

And as high school began, the two began to take their career to the next level.

“[Acting] did not become something I enjoyed as an art until freshman and sophomore year,” Jensen reflected, “When I realized the power that theater has over individuals.” Jensen began her high school acting career as the lead in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in 2016.

“I’ve been doing shows at Perry since my freshman year,” Woodward-Shaw explains, “I started with Addams Family and have been in every musical since.”

“Perry has gotten me to be involved in a lot of productions and theatre where I kind of got a good kick start,” she adds.

Jensen’s and Woodward-Shaw’s involvement in Perry Theatre Company as members of the International Thespian Society– or ITS– have also earned them the number one and number five spots respectively in terms of Thespian points, which are calculated using the amount of hours a member of the ITS earns works in a production.

Most recently, however, the duo has just opened Hale Centre Theatre’s production of No, No, Nanette. Woodward-Shaw as a member of the ensemble, and Jensen in a featured role.

Immediately, the differences between a school environment and a professional environment stood out to Jensen.

“At Hale it is definitely a more professional environment because of the adults there. Granted, there are teenagers in the production,” she goes on, “At Perry I have a lot more fun because I’m really close with the people I’m on stage with– it’s a much looser environment.” Jensen has starred in one other role at Hale so far, Kiss and Tell.

Jensen portrays the character of Winnie Winslow in No, No, Nanette at Hale Center Theatre. Nanette runs until March 31.

photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw

“Senior year, I’ve been exploring my options a little bit more: I’m doing outside stuff and getting paid,” as Woodward-Shaw puts it, “I’ve done a lot of community stuff, I’ve done a lot of school stuff… and being able to have that diversity of [Hale] on my resume allows people to understand I’m easy to work with.” Woodward-Shaw’s resumé boasts so far, six of Perry’s own productions and five of Hale’s. Woodward-Shaw is also on track to become the student at Perry with the most Thespian points of all time.

“Being able to finish off our senior year together in a professional show,” said Woodward-Shaw, “I think that’s pretty special.”

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Beyond the school stage