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Education

Glenbard West students raise money to take 'Big Fish' to International Thespian Festival

Glenbard West High School students Brennan Dougherty (from left), Katie Laird and Robbie Matthew, who performed in the 2018 Illinois High School Theatre Festival All-State Production of "Big Fish" in January at Illinois State University, are raising funds to bring the production to the International Thespian Festival in June at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Glenbard West High School students Brennan Dougherty (from left), Katie Laird and Robbie Matthew, who performed in the 2018 Illinois High School Theatre Festival All-State Production of "Big Fish" in January at Illinois State University, are raising funds to bring the production to the International Thespian Festival in June at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

GLEN ELLYN – A group of Glenbard West High School students who performed in the All-State production of "Big Fish" in January at the 2018 Illinois High School Theatre Festival at Illinois State University are raising funds to bring the production to the International Thespian Festival in June at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Glenbard West junior Brennan Dougherty of Glen Ellyn played the character Red Fang in the All-State production.

"I'm like a tap-dancing bad guy," Dougherty said. "I think the coolest part was that it was kids from all across the state, so you're getting the most dedicated and most talented kids from across the whole state. And we all got to work together to put on one awesome show. Also, it was performed at the Illinois High School Theatre Festival, so high schools from all across the state came to the festival, and they all got to see the show, which was pretty cool."

He is drawn to acting.

"I love being able to share a message," Dougherty said. "It's such an entertaining, creative outlet for the audience and the actor."

Joining Dougherty on stage were Glenbard West student Katie Laird, who performed in the show's ensemble, and Glenbard West student Robbie Matthew, who played the character Zacky Price. In addition, Glenbard West student Avery Williamson was on the lights crew for the production.

Dougherty has high hopes of bringing "Big Fish" to the International Thespian Festival.

"I think our show is so amazing," Dougherty said. "Not only is it impressive technically and talent-wise, but it also has a great message. And I think that any opportunity to share that, especially with the whole nation, would be really an awesome experience."

It also will be a learning experience, he said.

"We get to see other shows from across the nation, as well as work with professionals," Dougherty said.

Transporting the company of "Big Fish," comprised of more than 100 high school students and the set – which is currently being stored in two semi-trailers — would be expensive. The goal is to raise $25,000 by March 31. So far, more than $11,100 has been raised.

In the event the company cannot attend the festival, all money raised will go toward future Illinois High School Theatre Festival scholarship funds. All contributions are tax deductible.

"We're going to try to raise as much money as we can by the deadline," Dougherty said.

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