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Hinsdale Central theatre fundraiser to pay tribute to retiring teacher

Dan Cassin (left) and Madeline Mitchell star in Hinsdale Central's production of "Reckless" in 2011. Now alumni, Cassin and Mitchell rejoined forces to direct the upcoming "Central Casting" fundraising performance. (Photo provided)
Dan Cassin (left) and Madeline Mitchell star in Hinsdale Central's production of "Reckless" in 2011. Now alumni, Cassin and Mitchell rejoined forces to direct the upcoming "Central Casting" fundraising performance. (Photo provided)

HINSDALE – In almost four decades, countless shows have been performed at Hins-
dale Central High School thanks in part to the efforts of Christine Hicks, director of the Hinsdale Central Drama Department.

For 37 years, Hicks has worked as director of the drama club and as a teacher at the school. In honor of her last year at Central, and to pay tribute to her work, Hinsdale Central alumni will perform selections from various theatrical productions and Broadway shows during the “Central Casting” fundraiser.

“The premise of the whole show is to showcase all the different shows that Hinsdale Central has put on over the last 30 to 40 years, however long Mrs. Hicks has been directing shows there,” said Madeline Mitchell, one of the show’s directors. “We took a collection of some of those shows, but mainly shows that have been done more than once. For example, one of the shows we’re doing was performed in 1994 and then was done again in 2010.”

Mitchell graduated from Hinsdale Central in 2011. Joining her in directing the performance will be Dan Cassin who graduated in 2012. Cassin said Hicks was “phenomenal” and helped him at a critical time when he was starting to gain interest in the arts.

“Even in the time I was a freshman, she wanted students to be able to foster their creativity, and also give them an outlet,” Cassin said. “She was always there and she has really been my go-to person for the longest time.”

Mitchell said Hicks directed her in all the shows she participated in at Central.

“She was awesome because over the course of my four years there I really got to know her and she was always someone I knew I could go to and talk about something about the play, or homework or anything else,” Mitchell said.

Cassin and Mitchell have been friends since Cassin’s sophomore year of high school and also starred together in the production of “Reckless.” Cassin said, for the two of them, directing the show has been a challenge as performers are scattered across the country, but he and Mitchell are also far apart considering he currently goes to NYU and she is at DePaul.

“It’s been quite the undertaking on top of work and school and trying to graduate early too, but it’s been really fun and it’s been cool to reach out to the people participating,” Mitchell said.

Hicks said she’s “humbled” by the show honoring her and for the kids and parents to organize it was just wonderful. Looking back on her career, she said there were too many favorite memories to just pick one.

“I’m looking right now at my classroom where I’ve put up posters from all the shows I’ve directed and there’s going to be 65 by the time I’m done,” Hicks said. “It’s pretty amazing and impressive to think of all the young kids who have passed through the doors.”

Cassin said he’s excited for the show hosted by Hinsdale Central Boosters “Advance the Arts” because it doesn’t just pay tribute to Hicks, but it also helps raise money to help music, theatre and arts programs at Hinsdale Central.

“The audience can expect to have a really good time,” Cassin said. “It’s very casual and we’re not expecting people to dress up, it’s just going to be a fun time for people to come back and enjoy what Mrs. Hicks has done and say thank you to her.”

Mitchell said about 20 alumni will be performing, and there will be a big number at the end that includes some current students. She said this isn’t going to be a typical show at Central as it features several songs and different arrangements.

“It will be exciting for the audience to kind of notice, ‘Oh, so-and-so is in this,’ so the audience can expect just a lot of really talented people and a lot of good theatre,” Mitchell said.

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