Students on stage

Bennie and Johnnie tackle lead roles in local production

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July 10, 2014

By Barbara Hein

Nancy Jo Goettl '15 and Thomas Friebe '16 rehearse a scene from the show "Spring Awakening."

Students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are finding success in the local St. Cloud community theater scene.  Case in point, when the lights go down and the music begins for Curtain Call Community Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening" this summer, a Bennie and a Johnnie will step on stage in the lead roles.

CSB student Nancy Jo Goettl, a senior music major from Mankato, Minnesota, plays the female lead (Wendla) while Thomas Friebe, an SJU junior from St. Cloud, Minnesota, is the male lead (Melchior) in the show.   

" 'Spring Awakening' is a very intensely emotional show," Goettl said during a break from a recent rehearsal. "I've learned a new realm of acting from this show that I've never experienced before — where you have to put your entire trust into other people and you have to just let yourself go and be in the moment as an actor."

Campus connections

Friebe, who is majoring in environmental science and music, agrees with Goettl.  The fact that the two of them are both from CSB/SJU and knew each other before being cast has helped them prepare for these intense roles.

"I think it's definitely helped because it was easier for us to practice on our own for the parts and be really prepared for the entire thing," Friebe said. "We are both living in St. Joseph, Minnesota, this summer, so it was easy to just go and practice (outside of scheduled rehearsal time). Since these two roles are intertwined in the show so much that has really helped."

Both students are part of the CSB/SJU Chamber Choir during the school year. Goettl also works at the library, is the accompanist for the 9 p.m. student mass at Saint John's and has worked for the Saint John's Boys Choir in the past.  Friebe has also worked for the Boys Choir and is a member of the SJU cross country and track and field teams.

Stage veterans

"Spring Awakening" is the first show either student has done with Curtain Call, but it's not their first time on stage in the St. Cloud area.  Goettl played Eponine in GREAT Theatre's 2013 production of "Les Miserables" at the Paramount Theater in St. Cloud.  Friebe did theater throughout his high school days at St. Cloud Cathedral.

 "I really love the community they have here for theater," Goettl said. "I've met some of the best people — like in this show, I have some of the best friends I could have ever asked for.  I didn't realize how wonderful the community of St. Cloud was until I started getting involved in GREAT and Curtain Call."

Goettl and Friebe have also both performed with the Opera Workshop on campus and Goettl was in CSB/SJU's production of "Little Shop of Horrors" in 2012. 

Auditions and the first week of rehearsals for "Spring Awakening" happened when CSB and SJU were still in session, which was a bit stressful for Goettl and Friebe in terms of time commitments, but it all worked out in the end.

"My voice professor (at CSB/SJU), Patricia Kent, actually helped me get ready for the audition which was really great," Friebe said.  "I'm really thankful for all she did to help me prepare for this role."

Looking ahead

The acting bug has certainly bitten both Goettl and Friebe who plan to continue seeking stage time in the St. Cloud community theater scene.

"I'm thinking of auditioning for 'Peter Pan' this December with GREAT Theatre," Goettl said.  "That's one of my favorite shows."

"This has been a blast so far and it's going to be a great show, " Friebe remarked. "I love theater.  I'm actually loving it more and more each time I do a show.  I really want to do more in the future."

If you go...

What: "Spring Awakening"

When: 7:30 p.m., July 10-12, 17-19, 24-26

Where: Pioneer Place on Fifth, 22 5th Ave. S., St. Cloud, Minnesota


"Spring Awakening" is recommended for ages 16+.

Watch a 20 second video clip of Goettl singing during rehearsal: