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Park High School students in the spotlight at Chanhassen Dinner Theater

Keegan Greene (left) and Maddie Franz, Park High School seniors, were selected for the StarKid event at Chanhassen Dinner Theater. They performed, along with professional actors, in a recent matinee showing of "Bye Bye Birdie." Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Park High School seniors Keegan Greene and Maddie Franz didn't need any coaching for their one-time performance in "Bye Bye Birdie" at Chanhassen Dinner Theater.

Both were in Park's version of the musical a year ago.

Greene and Franz were selected by the school's drama and choir departments to participate in Chanhassen's StarKid program with their performance earlier this month.

The theater invited 50 schools around the state to send two students each to appear in matinees on various days.

They were told to arrive at the theater Feb. 8 wearing stage makeup but didn't have details of what kind of theater experience they would have, they said in an interview.

"We got lunch," said the two of them in unison, almost as if they were on stage.

They got a backstage tour and were led to a dressing room where they given costumes.

"Everybody was super nice," Franz said.

They shadowed actors in Act I and got to sing in Act II. Both remembered their lines and the songs from the Park performance.

Their love of music is apparent. Both sing just for the fun of it, even when no one can hear them. Franz calls it "making a joyful noise."

They said it was interesting to compare their experiences at Park with the Chanhassen production.

"Our set was square," Greene said.

"Theirs was circular," Franz said.

When Greene played Harry MacAfee, father of the teenage girl who is president of Conrad Birdie's fan club, he portrayed him as somewhat crabby. In the Chanhassen production, MacAfee was more quirky, he said.

"All the characters were quirky," Franz said.

Both students are heavily involved in the arts at Park.

Franz was in this season's One-Act Play, and she and Greene are in choir, band and theater. Greene plays trumpet in every ensemble and choir he can join at Park.

"I can't be in men's choir," Franz said.

With successful careers at Park, both are ready for the next act in their lives.

Greene is headed for the Marines and, playing his trumpet, will try out for the Marine band after boot camp.

Franz's mother is an actor and entertainer and Maddie will follow in her footsteps by attending the McNally Smith School of Music in St. Paul. "I like the stage," she said.

Their advice to kids in middle school who are interested in music and theater is: "Stick with it and don't be afraid to push yourself in all aspects."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600