A Minute with Magnus

Jenna Heng

For Eric Magnus, the Shawnee Mission West drama teacher, teaching classes is just the beginning of his devotion to the theatre field. This year marks his second year as director of the school’s theatre department, but his work in theatre outside of school is extensive. He has produced shows, played in pit orchestras, adapted Shakespeare plays, operated sound, acted in numerous productions and directed.

A lengthy resume of theatre experience has allowed Magnus to translate concepts learned in professional theatre, whether as an actor or a director, to the school stage when he directs the three mainstage productions.

“Working outside of the school, I’ve been able to learn a lot about how to direct in smaller spaces, how to pace a show. One of my favorite things is cinematic direction where you don’t have a lot of blackouts, one thing moves to the next. We really tried to that with Twelfth Night here,” Magnus said.

Capacious theatre work in and outside of school has introduced Magnus to a vast array of actors. However, the differences between actors in high school productions and actors in professional or community theatre productions, while present, are not abundant.

“I find that the range of talent and ability is very similar,” Magnus said. “The only difference is age. And content. I try to do shows here that you guys can relate to and not stretch too far into a future that you haven’t experienced yet.”

From teaching theatre classes to directing West productions to producing shows at The Barn, Magnus’ days are filled with theatre. Currently, he is directing the musical “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” at The Barn. The show will run Sept. 16 – Oct. 2. This fall, Magnus will begin directing the school’s musical,“Pippin.”

“I’m just your all around theatre nerd,” Magnus said. “Everything I do relates to theatre.”