Another successful year for AFS Showcase


Shorewood High School students had the opportunity to bring their unique talents under the spotlight during Shorewood Theatre Department’s AFS Showcase, held on November 11 and 12. Showcase is an annual performance that raises money for the American Field Service (AFS) Intercultural Programs, a non-profit study abroad organization. This year, the Showcase incorporated 17 different acts into a single performance. 

While other years have included both musical and non-musical acts, all of this year’s performers chose to show off their musical abilities.

“There’s always a few rock bands. There’s always at least one person who plays an acoustic guitar and sings. This year we had a ukulele player and a banjo player,” said Adam Sheaffer, theater director and teacher.

Some students, such as Dana Kim and Ritisha Dey, sophomores, chose to combine their separate talents for a single performance.

“I played a duet with my friend Ritisha Dey,” Kim said. “We played “Final Duet” from a video game called Omori.”

The show allows students to have a choice in what they perform, and gives them a chance to show off their individual talents as opposed to being part of a larger group.

“It’s a [rewarding] experience to perform in front of a live audience,” said Sam Sydner, junior and student director. “[Showcase is] a good chance to get that experience.”

An accommodating rehearsal schedule granted flexibility to students who might otherwise not be able to participate in performances due to conflicts.

It’s a [rewarding] experience to perform in front of a live audience.

— Sam Snyder, junior

“I think the great thing about Showcase is if there’s people that would rather just shine and be a solo act, it’s easier to find a time to rehearse when you don’t have to coordinate with [other] band members,” Sheaffer said. “Showcase is many sizes fit all as far as the level of commitment that students are able to make.” 

Another aspect of Showcase that sets it apart from other Shorewood Drama productions is student leadership. During the rehearsal process, 7 student directors worked together to judge auditions, make scheduling decisions, and organize the acts– roles typically covered by Sheaffer.

“I’m really more of a producer and I come in as needed,” Sheaffer said. “Whereas in musicals, my work is intensive and I’m working with a choreographer.”

Student directors were able to experience the process of directing and organizing a performance firsthand, along with the work that goes into it.

“It was exciting to be able to watch from start to end, putting everything together and knowing that you were a part of putting it together,” Sydner said. “It’s rewarding to see that.”

[Showcase] teaches you…how to be a firm but fair leader.

— Adam Sheaffer, theater director and teacher

A difficult task that the student directors had to accomplish was determining the order of each act within the show. The placement was strategic, aimed at maximizing the quality of audience and performer experiences.

“One of the bigger challenges for the directors is coordinating how it is that the show unfolds,” Sheaffer said. “It’s like putting together an album if you’re a rock band. You want to tell a little bit of a story, but there’s also logistical things.”

Involvement with the creation of Showcase also provided student directors with valuable life skills they may use later on.

“[Showcase] teaches you…how to be a firm but fair leader,” Sheaffer said. “In the past we’ve had fewer showcase directors, so it encourages you to collaborate with more people.”

Prior to the performance, students in solo acts rehearsed at school once per week, while larger acts rehearsed more frequently. The week before November 11 was much busier, with tech and dress rehearsals incorporating the entire cast. 

“Our rehearsals were pretty interesting and fun because we weren’t too serious about it but got stuff done,” Kim said. “During the rehearsals with everyone all together, the mood was pretty light.”

Although being on stage was daunting for Kim at first, she enjoyed performing.

“I liked watching certain acts but also just being on stage and then being in the middle of the piece where you weren’t too nervous like in the beginning,” Kim said. “Trying your best not to mess up was fun.”

Overall, participants in this year’s Showcase consider the show to have been a success.

“It’s always hard to get everything pulled together, especially in the last week when we’re putting it on stage and adding tech,” Snyder said. “But it went really well.”

“It was well attended and well received,” Sheaffer said. “I was very pleased.”