ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO, Spencer Angell attended a school production of The Lion King, in which his little brother performed as an ensemble dancer. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he said. “I signed up for theatre class and found out that I love not only the art but also all the people involved in it. Ever since, I have been doing theatre nonstop.”

Spencer Angell as Troy Bolton in High School Musical.

Spencer Angell as Troy Bolton in High School Musical. Photo courtesy of Spencer Angell.

With Thespian Troupe 639 at Salina Central High School in Kansas, Angell has played such roles as George in The Wedding Singer, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and (his favorite) Troy Bolton in High School Musical. He also stage managed a production of Clue: On Stage and directed the one-act Cut.

For 2019-20, Angell was elected the Kansas Student Thespian Officer vice chair and an International Thespian Officer, during which time he served on a subcommittee for the development of the International Thespian Student Leadership Council, which currently includes representatives from 32 ITS chapters. In June, he won both STO (this time as chair) and ITO reelection bids for the 2020-21 school year.

Angell said he aims to expand the ITSLC to represent all 48 chapters by increasing the visibility of the program. “Hopefully, this will make adult chapter leaders want [to get] their students involved.”

Could you share a highlight from your high school theatre career so far?
I am proud of having the privilege to play a role in Thespian Troupe 639’s state one-act, Lockdown, which came in first place at the 2020 Kansas Thespian Festival. [A prerecorded look behind the scenes of this Chapter Select production was presented at the 2020 Virtual International Thespian Festival.]

Why did you pursue office as a Thespian leader?
I became interested in becoming an International Thespian Officer when I saw all the great changes former [2018-19] ITOs Emily [Martin] and Audrey [Burgoon, both from Kansas] were able to accomplish.

I was close to Audrey throughout her term, so I got to talk to her about her travel to chapter festivals, National Arts Advocacy Day, and the EdTA Leadership Summit. It became clear to me that one person can make a difference. Likewise, I heard and saw the work Emily was doing as chair and was wowed by the idea that someone I knew led the ITO board. Her leadership and organization on the board were really inspiring.

What attributes make you a good leader?
I think I’m good at setting a goal, then developing a plan to get there. Things become a lot easier when you break them down into achievable steps, and I think I’m good at doing that.

Why is Thespian leadership so important?
Theatre and ITS have many parts that require the student voice. At the troupe level, student leadership is crucial to organize production rehearsals or events and to keep troupe morale up. At the chapter level, it is necessary to provide the student perspective in planning chapter events. And lastly, at the national level, student leaders provide unique insight to EdTA and work to create programs that benefit other students and the organization.

Student leadership is not only beneficial to the communities the leader serves but also to the student who serves. I am sure most Thespians have been placed in charge of something and have learned from it.

What advice would you share with other Thespians?
I’d say take the opportunities that present themselves and work hard on those opportunities.

Spencer Angell (right) with Chad Nulik, his former troupe director, following a performance of Rock of Ages.
Spencer Angell (right) with Chad Nulik, his former troupe director, following a performance of Rock of Ages. Photo courtesy of Spencer Angell.
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