Sharing the Spotlight

Theater community gives Anna Bohlen a platform to uplift peers, find kinship


Matthew McGehee

Senior Anna Bohlen works at the set of the upcoming fall play “the Firebugs.” She serves as theater manager and plays the role of “Anna” in the production.

Erich Raumann, Deputy Managing Editor

When she was only 7 years old, Anna Bohlen discovered her love for acting. It was her first production, a story about a lava monster that was part of a Lab afterschool class.

Before Anna started doing theater, she didn’t  really like talking with her classmates. Performing allowed her to interact with others in a way she hadn’t experienced before. 

“I was really shy when I was little,” she said. “It was really refreshing to be able to perform in front of others because I wasn’t really talking to other people outside of theater.” 

What kept bringing Anna back to acting throughout middle and high school was not the desire to play someone else on stage, but the opportunity to show her own true self through the unique lens of a fictional character. 

“It’s really fun to perform in front of other people,” she said. “You can give them your full self in a way that you can’t if you are just talking to someone. You can show all sides of yourself on stage. You’re taking parts of yourself and reshaping them to form the character.”

As a senior, Anna is at the top of her high school theater career, but she is not just using that opportunity to shine the light on herself but also to elevate other members of the high school theater community.

At U-High, Anna has been a highly active member of the theater program, having performed in almost every production since she entered high school. She worked with Lena Valenti to choreograph last spring’s musical, “Seussical,” and served on the Student Experimental Theater board. Currently, she is the theater manager for the fall play, “The Firebugs,” Oct. 27-29.

“She’s really contributed enormously to the theater program,” director Liucija Ambrosini said. “Last year, she and Lena were in charge of the choreography for ‘Seussical’ and did a marvelous job. There’s a ton of creative stuff and technical stuff she’s contributed, too. She has been a part of almost every production — I can’t think of one where she hasn’t been.” 

As an experienced and involved theater member, Anna works equally hard to help other people excel as she does to develop her own acting skills. 

“She’s wanted to be a person who not only benefits from the legacy of other former students who have graduated but also contributes to the theater, mentoring new kids and being extremely helpful with everybody she works with,” Mrs. Ambrosini said. 

Both working as theater manager and playing a significant part in “The Firebugs,” Anna keeps the production working on a deadline while also practicing the scenes she’ll be performing in. 

“She is a really great, patient person to work with,” costume master Martin Oliver said. “We are the only two seniors who are actually in the acting cast of ‘The Firebugs,’ and as a leader she has been amazing.” 

Ultimately, Anna’s hard work in the theater doesn’t come from a desire to raise herself up but to help individual students come together and express themselves.

“Everyone has their own unique talents and skill sets,” Anna said. “Everyone works together to make the best production possible; there are so many different elements that go into it, and they all come together really nicely in the end.”

Correction: An original version of this story said Lena Stole helped choreograph last year’s musical. Lena Valenti helped choreograph. 10/28/22