Leelanau News and Events

It's "13" This Weekend In Suttons Bay

By Ross Boissoneau | May 17, 2023

The number 13 is turning out to be a lucky one for Suttons Bay students. It’s the title of the musical they will be performing May 19-21 at the school, the first musical at the school since 2019.

Dr. Jason Peplinski is heading up the play alongside Elizabeth Richards, the school’s elementary music teacher, and Antonio Ford Martinez, who is handling the choreography. Peplinski went to school at Suttons Bay, eventually moving into education himself and working out west. His current involvement with the district actually dates back to when he was living in California and working as a superintendent. “I became friends with Casey Petz, the (current Suttons Bay) superintendent, in southern California.”

Martinez, another friend from California, had visited this area, and was so smitten by it he had already relocated to Suttons Bay from Woodland Hills before Peplinski. After retiring, Peplinski decided to return to his hometown as well.

Peplinski and Petz started talking about the school’s needs in the areas of arts programming, which had largely fallen by the wayside to due many factors, not the least of which was the pandemic. “COVID took so many things,” says Peplinski. Petz suggested that Peplinski could help with some of the arts programming.

Peplinski agreed, and soon found himself onboard, starting with choir in the fall. His attitude was, “We’ll see how that goes. And it went great.”

For Peplinski, the chance to reconnect with his home area and with students turned out to be mutually beneficial. “It was a nice transition to retirement. I’m done being a superintendent, but I like kids,” he says.

Working on the musical may have started with the kids, but it also involved the district committing to improving all the presentations at the school. “It had a beautiful auditorium, but it needed some TLC,” says Peplinski. His husband is a former studio executive, and was able to secure some tech upgrades. They worked with staff and were able to install a new floor, new lightboard, get 16 actor microphones and rehang the curtains.

Peplinski says the cast and crew are all students, with the exception of one role for an adult. He says the opportunity to expose students to all the potential in the arts, from acting to working behind the scenes, will benefit them going forward. “There are so many opportunities in the tech trades kids don’t know about,” he notes.

13: The Musical tells the story of Evan Goldman, an adolescent boy who moves from New York City to small-town Indiana due to his parents’ divorce, right before his bar mitzvah. It only lasted four months on Broadway, but the cast launched the careers of a number of young performers, including Ariana Grande.

Peplinski is hopeful this is the start of a rebound for the arts, not just at Suttons Bay, but across the county. A number of his students recently attended the musical The Drowsy Chaperone at Leland. “It was great, and great to see our kids support other schools,” he says. He believes students from Leland will be returning the favor.

Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $10 each and available at the door or here.


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