Winnetka, Community

New Trier performers full of pride to bring Lagniappe back with ‘Look At Us Now’

The cast and crew of New Trier’s Lagniappe-Potpourri variety show will step onto the Gaffney Theater stage Tuesday through Thursday, Sept. 21-23, marking the return of live theater at New Trier High School. 

The production is a decades-long, student-produced and -directed tradition celebrating the school community through song, dance, comedy and more. 

Producer Ethan Hoffman, a senior from Wilmette, explained that the show’s title, “Look at us Now,” was carefully selected with hopes of reflecting the pride and excitement felt by all those involved. 

“We thought long and hard about what to name our show,” Hoffman said. “The title reminds everyone not to look back, but to look at us right now, in this moment. It proves we have not given up because of the challenges thrown at us this past year. Rather, we are more committed than ever to put on a show that makes people happy.

“It’s such a surreal experience to be back on stage. I’m reminded just how much I love being part of this production. We can’t wait to show the audience what we’ve been working on.” 

Since the beginning of August, the cast and crew have been logging long hours nearly every day, making sure every detail of the production is without flaw. The students run everything from lighting and sound and choreography to singing and acting.

All of our performers have mastered the art of ‘smizing,’ which is smiling with your eyes, a new-found skill we’ve all developed during this time.” Sammy Obel, a New Trier senior and one of the show’s choreographers

While adults are present to support the process, Lagniappe is truly the work of the students. Sponsor and producing mentor Nina Lynn talked about the self-growth that develops from being a part of the production.

“This is a terrific group of students who have rolled with a lot of COVID challenges,” Lynn said. “We are all so excited to be performing once again in front of an audience and enjoy the dynamic nature of a live production. The experience teaches students how to problem solve in real time, how to work with different personalities and COVID restrictions. Students learn how to be leaders, while mastering the art of collaboration and compromise.

“Lagniappe is about the process, not just the end product.” 

The crew works on the stage for a rehearsal.

Wilmette Sammy Obel, a senior, is one of this year’s choreographers. She explained how her leadership role helped the entire cast work through any obstacles thrown their way, coming out stronger in the end.  

“One of the unique challenges this year is that masks are worn the entire time,” she said. “What we’ve learned from this is that we need to really use our body language to convey emotions. I think all of our performers have mastered the art of ‘smizing’ which is smiling with your eyes, a new-found skill we’ve all developed during this time.”

Choreographer and senior Josh Grossman, also from Wilmette, embraced his role as a student leader, saying that “it has been so great being back at live rehearsals. We all feel we have such a purpose and are so appreciative to work on what we love. Being a leader is so fulfilling; the responsibility is great. My goal is to keep everyone in a good mood, be supportive, encouraging and just enjoy the experience.”

For Sophomore Josh Wang, the camaraderie is what stands out most.

“The entire cast and crew has become so close,” he said. “It has been such a great experience learning from your friends. It really makes you feel like we are all in this together and we are all responsible for the show.” 

Lagniappe’s “Look At Us Now” runs Tuesday through Thursday, Sept. 21-23, in the Winnetka campus’s Gaffney Theater. Masks are required, and seating is arranged to provide social distancing. Get your tickets now BY CLICKING HERE.


Louis Abbott, Aleksandar Acimovic, Finola Cahill, Isaac Canel, Martha Dawson, Zijun Deng, Drew Hansen, Ryan Fenner, Stephanie Fineberg, Ana Flinton, Celia Goldstein, Daniel Grossner, Lizzy Kulick, Alexander Malm, Stephen Paul, Amelia Schotz, Angelica She, Madeline Sheedy, Josh Spinner, Julia (Dzhuliia) Vago


Rami Afifi, Asher Alcantara, Olivia Babolea, Charlie Baron, Blake Beeler, Sophia Burnell, Miles Davidson, Sage Harper, Grace Hepburn, Reed Jaberg, Annika Juliusson, Tiger Lee, Eddie Nayman, Luca Mitchell, Jake Moskow, Tara O’Brien, Trenton Rothbard, Ericka Pugliese, Sofie Schulmeyer, Tori Stone, Mia von Varga, Josh Wang, Grace Weir, Matthew Williams, Ari Winer, Jonathan Wolf, Lucy Yager-Madden, Ellie Zarch


Alberto Ayerza, Arden Chase, Bella Friedman, Sam Gordon, Joshua Grossman, Roxie Harris, Ethan Hoffman, Meeghan Jakob, Connor Kane, Hope Kim, Maggie Kruse, Anya Liu, Sammy Obel, Sarah Olson, Margo Pagonis, Cae Parkhill, Victor Pascucci, Elizabeth Payne, Stephen Paul, Dubravko Rodriguez, Elizabeth Stone, Harold Stricklin, Grace Traxler, Serena Vandergrift, Connor Williamson


Ella Bostrom,* Emily Boyd,* Megan Caserio, Ava Chaplick, Avery Donaldson, Natalie Fischer, Charlie Hayden, Henry Iida, Jack Murray, Dawn Jang, Kaya Jansen, Connor Kane, Margo Pagonis, Shea McKeough, Charlie Ronan, Lauren Schnizlein, Megan Trubey, Ari Wendrow
*Assistant Stage Managers


Natalie Fischer, Dawn Jang, Kaya Jansen, Jack Murray, Megan Trubey


Nina Lynn – Sponsor, Producing Mentor/Sketch Composition Mentor; Carolyn Gerhardt – Assistant Sponsor, Sketch Compostion Mentor; Matt Temple – Assistant Sponsor, Vocal Direction Mentor; Emily Daugherty – Costume Design Mentor; Anders Jacobson – Technical Direction Mentor/Scenic Design Mentor; Denise Karczewski – Lighting Design Mentor/Stage Management Mentor/Props Design Mentor; Malcolm Ruhl – Music Composition Mentor; Bruce Daugherty – Band Direction Mentor; Hilerre Kirsch – Stage Direction Mentor; Grover Hollway – Sound Design Mentor; Katie Kritek – Choreography Mentor

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Alexa Burnell

Alexa Burnell is a Wilmette resident who has been covering the North Shore for the past seven years, previously for The Wilmette Beacon and its sister newspapers.

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