Coffee House hits ‘growth spurt’


Trinity Cline-Smith

Senior Alaina Speiser, pictured above, is one of the MCs of Coffee House tonight. This means she will run Coffee House as well as announce performers.

Madeline Steward, Reporter

Coffee House has been one of SHS theater program’s top fundraisers for the past few years, and although it currently has an attendance count averaging around 300, it hasn’t always been as big as it is now.
Starting eight years ago, the first SHS coffee house was introduced. Then, the attendance was roughly only 150 people with around 17 performances. Within those 17 performances, there were only actually a few people involved.
“It’s crazy…” said senior Alaina Speiser, who has been involved with Coffee House since her sophomore year. “It’s so heart-warming to see so many people come to support people at Southport.”
Speiser has been involved with Coffee House for the majority of her high school career. Tonight, during this semester’s show, she will be one of the students helping run the show. She credits the growing attendance of Coffee House as being a major factor in allowing the theater program to eliminate some limits.
With the money raised, the theater program was able to build more intricate sets and buy much needed equipment, such as a sturdy ladder, drills and a new circular saw.
More importantly, as expressed by theater teacher Barb Whitlock, Coffee House and the money brought in helps the SHS students and community. The money permits Whitlock to purchase more costumes for the theater kids, which allows them to perform top-notch and more intricate events for the community.
“(Coffee House) creates a steady flow so you know that there can always be another show,” Whitlock said , regarding how the attendance of Coffee House has contributed to SHS’s theater department.
Personally, Speiser predicts that the audience will only continue to grow, while Whitlock says she is in denial about the audience eventually exceeding the current seating capacity. She believes that despite all the people who cram in to watch Coffee House, it is such a loving environment, that it never truly feels crammed.
“It’s such a good audience. It’s real chill, where everyone is supportive that it never feels like it’s crazy up there. It just really feels calm,” Whitlock said.
However, if Speiser’s prediction does become true, Whitlock has a few ideas in the back of her mind. She currently consults with Economics teacher Gene Lezon about redesigns for Coffee House’s set up, if need be.
In fact, each year, economic students are assigned a project that requires them to reconstruct and redesign Coffee House in the most efficient way possible.
This year, Whitlock plans on expanding the surface area and seating capacity of the stage by extending into the pit of the auditorium with platforms. This will still allow the audience to see the smaller stage that is set up, while keeping the same close-knit feeling.