ETHS theater students reflect on past years as spring productions are canceled


Courtesy of Mayher Matharu

“Golden Wrench” awards that Mayher Matharu has won over the years for her time working in ETHS’s stage crew.

Katie Jahns, Reporter


In late March, Evanston Township High School halted rehearsals and preparations for all student theater productions following Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.

These included a student-directed play and the spring musical, “Chicago,” which had been in rehearsal for just over three weeks before school was halted. Although students were told that this would most likely be a temporary delay, the remainder of the academic year moved online just three weeks after.

ETHS theater teacher and director Timothy Herbert said the spring musical is seen as the year’s “culminating event” for the theater department. Normally pulling a large audience and involving multiple aspects of performance art, he said having to cancel the show was especially difficult.

“For seniors, it’s just gutting. It’s heartbreaking,” Herbert said.

ETHS senior and crew member Mayher Matharu said she was especially looking forward to her last show at ETHS. With everything shutting down so quickly, the cast and crew were left without a proper last day.

“It’s a family,” Matharu said. “And I think that’s what I’m gonna miss most — the family that I didn’t get to properly say goodbye to.”

But students are taking comfort in one of their favorite traditions. On Tuesday, Aaron Carney, the head of stage crew, announced via the crew’s group chat that “there will be Golden Wrenches.”

The Golden Wrenches is an awards ceremony, typically held during the intermission of or after the last production of the year. Carney and Herbert said they make speeches and hand out certificates to students. The crew awards also come with wrenches that Carney spray paints gold.

Matharu said she remembers each golden wrench ceremony since her freshman year and couldn’t imagine what it would look like if it did happen this year.

“Theater is a lot about traditions and superstitions,” Matharu said. “And I think we’re all just kind of leaning into that these days.”

Although the format for the ceremony has not been announced, it will most likely be held over Zoom and follow a similar format to years past. Matharu said they typically present awards for the “Best Actors” and equivalent awards for the crew, as well as more humorous awards and superlatives.

ETHS senior Mia Rehwaldt, who has participated in every spring musical during her four years of high school, said she is especially excited. Being a senior in the theater department is a special experience, she said, so she’s glad there is still the chance to enjoy one last tradition.

“That honestly makes my year a little bit,” Rehwaldt said. “It’s just really awesome to see people getting recognition for the work they’ve done.”

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Twitter: @kmjahns

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