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Tyler Tolle is serious about bringing a message to local teens

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By Bryan Marshall

Forget “High School Musical.”

The Mason, Ohio-based Mishpachah, a drama/music group of high school students, will perform locally a production targeting teens dealing with abortion, alcohol, drugs, religion, sex and suicide.

The three-hour musical “Dead Serious…about life” is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, May 2 and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3 at Grant County High School.

Tickets are $8 in advance by calling 1-800-459-7268 or $9 at the door.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Tolle, a Williamstown High junior, is a cast member of the play.

“The message is that there is a better way,” he said about the production. “The first act is nothing but negative stuff at a teenage party with drugs and alcohol. At the end of the first act, this kid commits suicide because of all of the problems he had. In the second act, we talk to a youth minister and he talks to us about God and turning our lives around.”

This is Tolle’s first year with the group.

He became interested in joining after attending both of their shows in Grant County last year.

Tolle went to Ohio twice last summer to audition – once to become a group member and again to portray a main character in “Dead Serious.”

“I was kind of a good Christian and then I saw this,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to get into a ministry-type thing. I decided there were a lot of kids in the group who would influence me to be a better Christian and reach out to other teens.”

Before he joined the ministry, Tolle said he would just ignore his fellow students who talked about parties where alcohol would be available.

“Now, I try to tell them that there is better things you can do and try to get them to go bowling or something else,” he said. “It’s helped me with my walk with God. I’ve got a lot of friends out of it.”

In the musical, Tolle plays Brad, who he describes as “a stuck up kid who thinks he’s all that” and “thinks that all the girls like him and he pretty much only wants them for sex.”

Before joining Mishpachah, Tolle’s only acting experience was a couple of skits at Family Worship Center.

Now, he has performed in about 20 shows in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee and the group will be going to Arkansas in June.

“At first, I was scared to get in front of people,” Tolle said. “Then, we had a dress rehearsal where parents came and that got our nerves out. By the first show, I was fine.”

However, he admits that being on stage for the first time in front of a home crowd will be a little different.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Tolle said. “At first, I was nervous because it will be pretty much in front of my family and friends. But, I’m ready for it. I’m ready to see their response to it and see people change in my school.”

Tolle said his experiences during the past several months have motivated him to want to pursue ministry even further.

He said he has thought about becoming a youth minister.

At the end of “Dead Serious”, Tolle said the group gives an altar call where audience members can come up to talk privately to adults about any problems they may be dealing with.

“Sitting on the stage and watching the kids come up is like this feeling you can’t explain,” he said. “You know that you touched these kids.”