Making magic, defying gravity

The Educational Theatre Association presented “Making Magic, Defying Gravity,” an evening of behind-the-curtain conversation and music with working professionals from the national touring company of the Broadway blockbuster “Wicked,” Sept. 28.

“Wicked” national tour production stage manager Jason Daunter works with the boys during the “Making Magic, Defying Gravity” event.
“Wicked” national tour production stage manager Jason Daunter works with the boys during the “Making Magic, Defying Gravity” event.Photo submitted

That Saturday evening, 17 high school students joined working professionals on stage at the Stoll Thrust Theatre on the University of Minnesota campus for an evening of entertainment and conversation in celebration and support of theater education.

Representing local schools were St. Francis High School students Mitchell Greene, Max Mauch-Morff and Abilene Olson and Blaine High School students Sophie Geerdes and Sharon Houchins.

“Wicked” performance company members Justin Brill, Sarah Schenkkan and Justin Mendoza worked with the students during an evening of Broadway music and industry insight.

Not only that, the local students also interacted with Educational Theatre Association board members J. Jason Daunter (production stage manager of the national tour of “Wicked”) and Matt Conover (vice president for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment) and gained valuable insights and an insiders perspective about working on stage and behind the scenes.

Julie Woffington, executive director for the Educational Theatre Association, also participated in the “Making Magic” evening.

The unique event showcased not only some of Broadway’s and Minneapolis’s top student talent, but also provided understanding and perspective on theater education and careers in the business.

All proceeds from tickets sales for the event benefit the association’s scholarship fund for students across the country.

Since its inception in 2012, “Making Magic, Defying Gravity” has traveled to more than 14 cities across America as an advocacy outreach benefit.


About the Educational Theatre

The Educational Theatre Association is a national non-profit organization with approximately 90,000 student and professional members.

Its mission is shaping lives through theater education by honoring student achievement in theater and enriching their theater education experience; supporting teachers by providing professional development, networking opportunities, resources and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theater education is essential and builds life skills.

The association operates the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization that has inducted more than two million theater students since its founding in 1929.

The Educational Theatre Association also publishes “Dramatics,” a monthly magazine for high school theater students, and “Teaching Theatre,” a quarterly journal for theater education professionals.

Sue Austreng is at