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In a Real-Life 'Glee' Plot, Jock Abandons Sports for PNHS School Musical

When Kyle Ryan landed the lead in "Into the Woods," he decided to quit Plainfield North's wrestling team.

If art can imitate life, so too can life imitate art -- or at least a TV show.

Kyle Ryan is captain of the football team and a star wrestler who was expected to go to the state finals this year.

But Ryan, a 6-foot, 275-pound senior, also has a deep love for theater. And in a story that could have been torn from a recent episode of "Glee," when offered the lead role in the school's spring musical, Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods," he knew something had to go. That something eneded up being wrestling.

“There are some similarities to 'Glee' for sure,” said Ryan of the Fox-TV show, which focuses on the divide between the glee club members and the jocks, two of whom try to do both.

“There are always those people who try to make fun of you for what you like, but you just have to say, ‘This is what I love doing.’ It’s a lot of fun. Ultimately, I’m the one enjoying it, I’m the one having fun.”

For most of his high school career, his love of theater took a backseat to athletics. After a concussion sidelined him for part of the football season this year and postponed his return to wrestling, he decided to audition for the musical. About the same time he learned he had been cast as the lead, he was cleared to return to wrestling full time.

“I chose theater over wrestling this year because it’s something I love so much and never fully had the chance to participate in,” he said.

“Sometimes I have that part of me that misses wrestling because I’ve been wrestling since I was in the third grade. This year I had such a passion for performing my love just poured into the theater. I have no regrets. I made the right choice.

Ryan heads a cast of 21 in the “Into the Woods” production, which runs from March 18 to 20 in the PNHS Auditorium.

“This is a smaller cast than most of our productions,” director Jason Hawkins said. “Past productions of 'Annie' and 'The Sound of Music' have had casts twice this size.”

More than 70 students auditioned for the 21 parts. The plot weaves the story of a baker and his wife with that of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Rapunzel" and "Cinderella."

“The show is actually very complex both musically and intellectually,” Hawkins said. “It features a musical score by Stephen Sondhiem, the same composer of the music for 'Sweeney Todd.' This show brilliantly intertwines famous fairy tale characters into a story line of a baker and his wife’s desperate attempts to reverse a curse casted upon them by a witch.”

Ryan plays the role of the baker.

“The baker is very kind, he’s in a sense very innocent and naive, but his intentions are good,” Ryan said. “I realized that I have a lot of the baker in me, with being unsure of myself or second-guessing myself.”

Hawkins said the students have thrown themselves into the production.

“This is an extremely dedicated cast,” Hawkins said. “They have put hundreds of hours into this show and are doing a great job. This is one of those shows that is unobtainable by many high schools, and I am very proud that they have put in the effort needed to make it happen.”

Being cast was "very exciting,” said senior Taylor Katz, who plays the part of Jack’s mother from "Jack and the Beanstalk."

"It’s a big commitment," she said of the 12-hours days she's putting in at school plus weekends, "but it’s worth it. This is what I love doing.”

Audiences can follow the baker on his journey into the woods during shows at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students. Seating is general admission and the doors open a half hour before show times. Tickets can be purchased the day of the show or during school hours weekly at Plainfield North’s main office. They can also be reserved by calling 815-609-8506.

Britt March 18, 2011 at 03:57 AM
I smiled while reading this whole article. It's wonderful to see that North has such devoted artistic patriots (and even greater knowing I had the honor of working with some of them!) Keep rocking it! "Or Earlier!"
Alumni March 18, 2011 at 07:16 AM
In response to "Kyle is a quitter" and "Tod." First of all if you are adults you should probably do something more with your life than judge a teenager's actions. And if you are not you will eventually realize how wrong your statements are. Either way, instead of critiquing Kyle's actions I would suggest reading the book "Walk Two Moons." One of the main themes includes the saying "Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins." Clearly you do not understand the situation that Kyle was in and you also do not realize that his decision will not determine in anyway the rest of his life. To say that he will never succeed in anything truly brings out your own ignorance. Clearly people may be upset or hurt about his decision, but there came a point where he had to consider his future and his health and what he truly wants. Being a new member of the Plainfield North Alumni as well as a very active, decorated athlete at the school, clearly I am interested in the future of our Tiger Athletics. But the well being and success of the school's athletics should never outweigh the health of an athlete. So I leave the two negative commentators to a task... and don't worry the book is age appropriate considering your actions reflect those of a 6th grader. To Kyle, I truly admire your strength in supporting your decision, even when others question it. Stay true to yourself and don't let anyone else get in the way. Prove to everyone just how great a "choir boy" can be.
Cait March 18, 2011 at 01:58 PM
For those of you that are saying that Kyle "abandoned" his wrestling team, all you cowards should have just stepped it up and worked harder. Stop crying about the fact that you can no longer ride on his coat tails all the way to the State Finals and try to accomplish something for yourself. Kyle is, and that's why he's so happy with his decision to pursue theater. It's so impressive that he is talented enough to have his pick of either being a wrestling captain or the lead in the musical, and it just shows that all you critics are jealous of him.Why don't all of you just worry about your own season and leave Kyle alone?
Dani March 18, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Well first of there are SO many things wrong with this. one being that you said he quit the team because he was lazy, well i have been apart of PNHS theatre since i was a freshman and i will tell you that theatre is a million times harder than wrestling is. Dont judge it because you have clearly never tried it. There is absolutely NO LAZINESS in PNHS productions. So way to look incredibly stupid saying something you know nothing about. I was also apart of one of the roughest sports out there (rugby) and i can tell you that compared to theatre, rugby is a walk in the part. Another thing you are wrong about is Kyle. Kyle is amazing at theatre in lack of a better word. And if you would care to actually pay attention, the wrestlers are actually supportive of him. at least some of them. Its a shame that they wouldnt want better for their captain. Kyle did not intend to leave people hanging when he quit the team; and if the wrestling team is actually good, they can recover from this. If this is Kyle Ryans dream, who the hell are you to judge him? I dont understand why this has a big effect on you. He is inspiring because i guarantee that quitting was not easy for him. He had an even greater passion for theatre than he did for wrestling. And let me tell you this kids acting and singing abilities are mind blowing. The theatre department would whole heartedly not be as good as it is without Kyle Ryan and the others that are as devoted to it as he. Shoot for the sky Kyle.
Joey March 18, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Being a part of the wrestling team at Plainfield north this year, I can say firsthand that Kyle is no quitter. Seeing as we had no "tod" on the team this year, you speak with no experience and are just trying to get attention for yourself. Kyle is a great leader in all that he does, may it be wrestling, performing, playing football, even in school. Kyle worked harder than anyone in practice and in meets, and everybody in the wrestling room at Plainfield north will say the same. Last time I checked, "quitter" is not the name you give to one who follows their dreams. Congratulations Kyle, thank you for all that you taught me in the wrestling room, and good luck this weekend.
kyle Ryan March 18, 2011 at 03:50 PM
peope need to leve other people alone on this cause we have no idea who is who on here
This Is Me March 18, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Kyle a quitter? For all of those who think musical is a walk in the park are the most ignorant people in this world. So what if he's not number one in state for grabbing a guys sweaty balls and tumbling on top of him and then awarded a steak and potato dinner at Chilies after? That isn't hard, especially when he and everyone else knew he had it in the bag and was going to win this ignorant "sport". What is hard and TOUGH is learning to read a whole different language called music, yeah that's right, there isn't any pictures in these books, that must be a shocker to you! Not to mention the composer is Steven Soundheim, which obviously none of you are intelligent enough to know that he is known to have one of the most challenging and complex writing styles in our modern time. And if that isn't TOUGH enough for you, in drama Kyle can't be an actor who is playing The Baker, he has to BE THE BAKER! To become a totally different person on stage, and make you forget that it isn't Kyle up there, it is truly the character "The Baker" takes extremely great talent and TONS OF TOUGH HARD WORK. Kyle is at rehearsal for musical for almost 50 hours these last two weeks and at home AND at school he is continuously practicing his music and lines to make this show the greatest show PNHS has made. Which is hard since our last two shows have been completely SOLD OUT with people still rushing in the auditorium when there isn't anymore seats.
This Is Me March 18, 2011 at 03:51 PM
He didn't quit on you, he always wanted to do this but was never able to because of you and all other ignorant people who told him wrestling is where he should be not a “fairy” on stage. Well if you just opened your eyes for one minute you'll see you actually quit on him, not supporting him in everything he does and not letting him do other things that he always dreamed and loved to do just so you and your son can ride on his coat tail and say yeah OUR WRESTLING TEAM WON STATE and totally forget kyle actually got you there.
geralyn pantano March 18, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Are you people on crack? Who are you too judge someone you don't even know? He's not a quitter, at all.
Natalie March 18, 2011 at 10:47 PM
All I have to say is that this site clearly has nothing better to do than write meaningless articles that are offensive and unnecessary. Kyle is an outstanding young man with a bright future ahead of him. Who are you to say that he is a quitter and that he is letting down his team? Is that a joke? I'm not sure if you've seen the comments on this article but nobody is agreeing with what is being said. The only thing this article has accomplished is negatively affecting a theatre student's self esteem. Nobody should ever be put down for doing something they love. I really don't understand the objective of this piece. I'm sure this is not the first situation of an athlete choosing theatre as his or her first priority; there is no reason to draw attention to this specific case. Maybe next time you should focus on a piece that doesn't revolve around highschoolers...
Hadeel March 19, 2011 at 06:16 PM
I am so proud of Kyle. He has proven to everyone else that you can be a renaissance man, regardless of what people generally tell us what to be. He is a phenomenal athlete and talent, and he needs to do what he loves. Keep it up, Kyle! Your ambition and passion keeps us all moving forward.
Janet March 19, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Kyle, we seen the show last night and you were amazing!! You are a talent young man with a bright future. Keep following your heart and doing what is best for you!

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