Zionsville Community High School junior gets lead role in CYT’s ‘Up the Down Staircase’


Mara Lusk embraces the passion her character displays in “Up the Down Staircase.”

“I like just how much hope she has,” the Zionsville Community High School junior said. “I think it’s admirable how she continues to fight for these kids who maybe don’t have anybody else in their lives fighting for them.”

Lusk plays Sylvia Barrett, a new teacher who is determined to change the lives of her students, in the Christian Youth Theater’s production. It is set for Sept. 23-25 at The Cat, 254 Veterans Way, Carmel.

The play deals with mental illness and poverty. The 1965 novel by Bel Kaufman was first made into a movie in 1967.

“It was a real important storyline back then, and we still see a lot of movies and books with the one person who stands up for underprivileged kids,” Lusk said.

Lusk said the role is the biggest she has ever had in a CYT production.

“She’s really dynamic and has a lot of different emotions, and sometimes that can be challenging,” Lusk said.

Nolan Daugherty, a Geist-area resident who is a junior Mission Christian Academy in Fishers, said the show branches out from the shows CYT normally does because of the more serious subject matter.

“But I believe it addresses important topics of the challenges of running a school in an area that has inequalities. That’s why the 1960s movie was successful,” he said.

Daugherty said his character is a fun role to play,

“He loves his school but doesn’t necessarily love the other staff,” Daugherty said. “All he wants is a smooth day with no issues.”

The production is Daugherty’s 10th with CYT.

“I love the shows but also love the community,” he said.

For more, visit cytindy.org.