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In sync: Hansons bring partnership to LPHS

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Tim and Sallie Hanson, a team at school and in life, are working in lockstep to help Slicer thespians and tech crew turn the Performing Arts Center into the place to be in La Porte.

The Hansons are relatively new to the Slicer family with Mr. Hanson hired as the PAC Director last school year, and Mrs. Hanson joined the Family and Consumer Science department in August. 

“I have always heard good things about LaPorte Schools, and it is near my home, which is a wonderful perk. For the past ten years I have been commuting from New Carlisle to Hobart for work, and so I began looking for jobs closer to home. LaPorte was first on my list, and luckily for me there were some job postings, so I went for it and put the rest in God’s hands,” Mrs. Hanson said.

Both have made an immediate impact at LPHS, especially with students.

“I first met the Hansons during Shrek last year. I was able to work with them with the Murder Room and now the spring musical Once Upon a Mattress. I felt an instant connection. They have done so much for me, and I can’t explain how grateful I am for them. They feel like family,” Emily Hunt, sophomore actress, said.

The two just directed the fall play The Murder Room, which received rave reviews from staff and community members. Watching the whole production come together was a joy for the Hansons.

“I was extremely proud! Working with those students was one of the most rewarding experiences in theatre I have ever had,” Mr. Hanson said.

The theatre program for LPHS is in great hands, and the Hansons have lofty goals for its future.

“The main goal is to create a program that gives students a place to be able explore their interest in the art of theatre whether it is acting or designing or tech work. The first thing is to generate interest. I want to be able to reach the student who just wants to do this as a fun extracurricular as well as the student that wants to continue on to college as a theatre major. I want to be able to pull 40 years of experience to help guide them in a good direction. I feel that I’m not only teaching them theatre but how to be a part of something,” Mr. Hanson said.

While both may be new to LPHS, the Hansons have a rich history in theatre. Mrs. Hanson earned a bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design and Technology from Purdue University, a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Design and Technical Production from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Teacher Certification Degree in Family and Consumer Science and English from Western Michigan University. 

Mr. Hanson went to IUSB on a full ride acting scholarship for his bachelor’s degree. About three years into that, he switched from acting to design. Mr. Hanson then received a graduate assistantship at the University of Nevada Las Vegas for design and technical production. He also attended the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland one summer where he took acting classes.

Working together has been not only an asset for LPHS but the Hansons as well. Their strengths balance each other in all the right ways and allow for both to do the work they deeply love.

“I think Mrs. Hanson would agree that we share a brain. We compliment each other very well. We share many strong points but the good thing is where I am weak, she is strong and vice versa so we are able to cover many bases. We both love designing and love the visual aesthetics of staging a production. We love ‘brainstorming’ and coming up with cool concepts for the productions we work on. It’s really fun to try to do a production in a way that has never been done before and to be able to direct a production where we have control over all of the design elements and actors is very refreshing and satisfying,” Mr. Hanson said.

The two individually have extensive experiences in the arts. For Mrs. Hanson, her love for theatre was developed early on as her mother was heavily involved in productions and owned a semi-professional theatre in Syracuse, Indiana. From acting to marketing to directing to designing scenes and costumes and all the other roles in between, Mrs. Hanson has done it all.

“It is part of who I am. I honestly don’t feel whole, unless I am involved with it in some way. For me, theatre equals ‘home.’ And the best part, it always reminds me of my mom, who passed a few years back,” Mrs. Hanson said. 

The list of productions she has worked on or acted in is impressive, but a small snapshot of her favorites are Bye Bye Birdie, Mame, Guys and Dolls, Creeps by Night, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, Harvey, Nine, Three Sisters, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, King Lear, Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Raisin in the Sun, Hamlet, Oklahoma, Dames at Sea, Beckett, Toys in the Attic, 1940’s Radio Hour, Redwood Curtain, Elephant Man, Sylvia, Deathtrap, Sleuth, Blythe Spirit, Mirandolina, Miss Julie, Afterlife, The Miracle Worker, and Charlotte’s Web

For Mr. Hanson, his passion was found a bit later than his wife. It was a happenstance in high school that led to Hanson diving into his future path. 

“My love of theatre started my sophomore year in high school when I was in my first play.  I didn’t audition but was talked into filling in when somebody quit. After that I was in every production until I graduated. I then received a full ride scholarship for acting at IUSB. It is there that I found my true passion in designing and creating sets, props, lighting and sound. I have acted in close to 40 productions. I enjoy watching theatre, but my greatest joy comes in creating theatre,” Mr. Hanson said.

Just like his other half, Mr. Hanson’s resume jumps off the page.

“I have acted in my younger years and have acted in several Shakespeare plays including Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew, Gratiano in Merchant of Venice, Fleance son of Banquo in Macbeth. I have also been in many childrens’ productions. I was Rumpelstiltskin in Rumpelstiltskin and many more. Directing is a relatively new area that I’m now getting back to.  I directed Hello Out There as an undergraduate student,” Mr. Hanson said.

In the spring, both will be adding yet another show to their list–Once Upon a Mattress. A musical brings all new sets of challenges to the Slicer Performing Arts team, but the Hansons put a great deal of thought and consideration into their choice.

“We all agreed that we had to choose a show that would, above all, serve our students,” Mr. Hanson said.

If the fall play is any indication, the spring musical will leave viewers wanting more. The Hansons hope to keep building a program that fills the PAC and provides an outlet for the community.

“We want the community to be able to come and enjoy the productions we do in the PAC.  Whether it is a play or musical, band or choir concert we are here to entertain and enlighten the community through our student productions,” Mr. Hanson said.

With this dynamic duo, the LPHS Performing Arts crew is sure to break many a leg.  

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