Love is In the Air as Mentor Theatre Introduces its 99th Season

A column by Mentor Theatre president Doug Slovenkay on the new season

Mentors Fine Arts Center

Mentor Schools

Mentor’s Fine Arts Center

Doug Slovenkay, Contributor

Love is in the air as Mentor Theatre kicks off its 99th season – one centered around a theme of love and romance.

This year, Mentor will again be putting together three productions – a fall play, a winter play, and a spring musical – a model that has remained constant in recent years. Mentor Theatre will also give students additional opportunities to showcase their talents through a talent show slated to take place this fall, as well as a vocal revue that will occur in February. Given the incredible amount of theatrical talent present within the walls of Mentor High School, one will not want to miss a single one of the many performances offered this season!

The Cast of “The 39 Steps” (Winter Play, 2022. Via @mentortheatre on Instagram)

Fall Play

“Leading Ladies”, via

Mentor Theatre’s fall play this year will be Ken Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies,” a show that Mentor High actually became the first high school in the nation to perform back in 2006. This zany comedy follows two struggling Shakespearean actors from England – Jack and Leo – who open the story on tour at the Moose Lodge in Amish country, Pennsylvania. They then catch wind of an old woman in the nearby town of York who is dying and in search of her two long-lost nephews to bequeath her fortune to.

Jack and Leo agree to pose as this woman’s nephews in an attempt to receive her money; The only catch? The woman is actually seeking her long-lost nieces, not nephews. Nevertheless, Jack and Leo figure that they are in too deep to turn back, so they pose as women and hope that the old lady is too sickly to know the difference. The rest of the story follows the hilarity that accompanies the two men’s attempts to make the woman’s entire family believe that they are indeed her long-lost nieces. Along the way, romance fills the air, an incredibly entertaining plot line given that Jack and Leo must stay committed to posing as women in order to receive the fortune. “Leading Ladies” was a huge hit when it graced Mentor’s stage for the first time nearly twenty years ago, and an equally positive reception is anticipated when the play returns to the Fine Arts Center stage.

“The cast of this year’s fall play has been absolutely hilarious!” says junior Sam Cantu, who will be portraying the character of Duncan. “The rehearsals have been going amazing and I can’t wait for the performances!”

“Leading Ladies” will be performed October 28-30.

Cast of “Leading Ladies”, October 2022

Leo – James Goodman

Jack – Joshua Schmitt

Meg –  Sidney Kramer

Florence Reagan Simon

Doc – Doug Slovenkay

Audrey – Emily Burns

Butch – Joey Myles

Duncan – Sam Cantu

Winter Play

“Prelude to a Kiss”, via

February is often viewed as the true season of love due to the month’s association with Valentine’s Day. Fittingly, Mentor’s winter show, set to open in early February, perhaps fits the theme of “love and romance” better than either of its counterparts. “Prelude to a Kiss”, by Craig Lucas, follows the life of Peter Hoskins, an extremely regular fellow whose life is flipped onto its head when he meets Rita, an eccentric, high-energy girl capable of bringing the fun side out of anybody. The two engage in a whirlwind romance, culminating in marriage just weeks after meeting. On their wedding day, a strange old man appears at the reception and insists on kissing the bride. For some unknown reason, Rita obliges, and almost instantly, everything changes. Rita soon begins to act very strangely and is seemingly a whole different person. It soon becomes apparent that when they kissed, Rita and the old man’s souls had traded places, meaning that Peter is now living with an old man in the body of his bride. This “Freaky Friday” -esque story combines comedy, romance, and drama to give audiences an unforgettable treat. “Prelude to a Kiss” will run from February 2-4.

Cast of “Prelude to a Kiss”, February 2023

Peter – Doug Slovenkay

Rita – Kate Lisachenko

Rita’s Dad – Nick Seifert

Rita’s Mom – Lauren O’Neill

Old Man – Joshua Schmitt

Taylor – Shawn Holloway

Leah – Lillian Washner

Tom – Douglas Sparks

Aunt Dorothy – Karianne Rateno

Waiter – Alex Oiler

Spring Musical

“Mamma Mia!”, via

Mentor Theatre’s 99th season is scheduled to go out with a bang in the form of the hit musical “Mamma Mia!” This musical sensation follows a young woman by the name of Sophie who was raised in Greece by her single mother, Donna. Donna supposedly has no knowledge of who Sophie’s father may be, however, Sophie soon discovers information that contradicts this assertion. She learns that her mother had a connection with three men the summer prior to her birth and – unbeknownst to her mother – decides to invite all three to her wedding in an attempt to ascertain who her father truly is. The result is a riveting musical mystery that captivates the audience from start to finish with catchy tunes from the hit ’70s band “Abba.” Senior Leah Hodkey, who will be portraying Tonya this spring, cannot wait to get to work on her senior musical at MHS.

“I’m super excited for this show! ‘Mamma Mia!’ is a show that everyone can find something that they’ll enjoy in which I think makes it really special. I know the cast is going to do an incredible job with it. Theatre is something that has been a part of my life for so long, and I’m glad that my senior show is going to be spent with such talented and amazing people.”

“Mamma Mia!” will hit the FAC stage April 20-23, 2023.

Cast of “Mamma Mia!” / April 2023

Donna Sheridan – Cordelia Klammer

Sophie Sheridan – Nicolette Harvey

Tanya – Leah Hodkey

Rosie – Loren Sciulla

Sam Carmichael – Owen Greene

Bill Austin – Khoury Ward

Harry Bright – Payson Chapman

Sky –Jackson Hodkey

Pepper – Michael Lonis

Eddie –James Goodman

Sophie’s Friends – Olivia Cater, Kali Chapman, Michael Cefaratti, Ava Zilke

Female Ensemble – Emily Burns, Alli Celek, Kara Cogan, Natalie DePoy, Audrey DiMattia, Sydney Fink, Maddie Grice, Kenna Hamilton,  DeAnna Harville, Marlene Hopkins, Bruna Junqueira, Kate Lisachenko, Kathleen Lucas, Teresa Morek, Faith Nelson, Madeline Petroff, Isabella Pfeiffer, Reagan Simon, Desiree Smith, Aeryn Tecson, Donna Tran, Sophie Valentine, Rosalina Winney

Male Ensemble – Samuel Cantu, Vincent Gamiere, M. Shawn Holloway, Chandler Mailhot, Brian Mignogna, Alex Oiler, Dominic Pavkov, Texas Rhoads, Joshua Schmitt, Nicholas Seifert, Doug Slovenkay, Aidan Thacker, Sam Wirsing

Summer Trip

Following a two-year Covid-induced hiatus, Mentor Theatre will again offer a summer trip for students involved with the program. This year, the group will be traveling to New York City for three days to enjoy a number of hit productions at one of the top theatrical venues in the world. While it is not yet known which shows attendees of the trip will be viewing, it will without a doubt be a good time to be had for all as they indulge themselves in quality theatre and soak in city living at “The Big Apple”.

A photo from the most recent Mentor Theatre trip in 2019 (via @mentortheatre on Instagram)

Talent Show And Revue

For the second year, Mentor Theatre will be hosting Mentor High School’s talent show. This event is open to all students, regardless of theatrical participation and/or experience, who possess a desire to share their talents with their peers. This may include performances such as singing, stand-up comedy, or even magic! Tryouts for the talent show will be taking place relatively soon, so make sure to stay tuned for information to come regarding this exciting event!

Also returning for a second year is the Theatre Revue! The Theatre Revue provides students involved with the theatre program an opportunity to perform a song from a musical that, for any sort of reason, is unlikely to ever be performed at MHS. There are no prizes awarded to top performers or anything of that nature, instead, the intention of the event is simply to give students a platform to showcase their talents in a fun, non-competitive environment. All songs sung by the students must be in line with the theme of the theatre season, meaning that all performances this year will be songs that fall under the umbrella of “love and romance”. Participation in the Theatre Revue is exclusive to members of Mentor Theatre. Currently, this event is slated to take place on February 15th, 2023.

In order to bring this jam-packed season to life, Mentor High’s thespians will dedicate hours and hours of their time to ensure that each and every production is of the highest quality possible. For this reason, I would strongly encourage any and all individuals to attend performances whenever possible in order to recognize the very hard work that these dedicated students put in towards entertaining their audiences.