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A final bow, but he’s not going anywhere

Drama club director passes baton to colleague

Godfrey-Lee — Harry Coffill directed his first musical at East Grand Rapids High School in 2004. The show was “Alice in Wonderland,” and it featured the March Hare played by a young Peter Meijer, who would go on to serve as a member of the U.S. Congress.  

This past week, Godfrey-Lee’s district media specialist directed his final musical, “Alice: A Musical Adventure,” at Lee High School, where he has served as drama club director since 2019.

While he’s sad to be stepping away from that role, he said he’s looking forward to redirecting his energy to other passions. 

“I want to re-learn how to play my guitar; I want to be an actor; I want to write my own shows and explore opportunities in voice acting,” he said.

With changes happening in the district’s libraries this year, Coffill also said he wants to have the time to dedicate to the schools, as well as opportunities to advocate for libraries and librarians in Lansing. 

“I want to dedicate my time to do important legislative work, but I need the time to do it and do it well,” he said. 

Not wanting to leave Lee Middle and High School students without a drama club leader, Coffill is passing the baton to teacher Nicole Burgett for future productions. 

From left, senior Betzy Aguirre and junior Heiress Mason in their costumes for Alice and Small Alice, respectively, meet Heidi Henning, who played Alice in director Harry Coffill’s first show

Making Musical Memories 

Coffill said his first show at Lee, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” was one of his most memorable. He added, “Doing ‘The Wiz’ before the pandemic, canceling the show and then getting to perform it last year was really rewarding. 

“There wasn’t a big culture for theater when I got to Godfrey-Lee,” he recalled. “Since I’ve been here I’ve seen more and more kids do theater, which is great for the future of the program.”  

Some of the cast members of “Alice: A Musical Adventure” shared their favorite things about their director: 

“I love working with Mr. Coffill,” freshman August Wheeler said. “When he’s sarcastic, he’s hilarious.”

“His jokes are the best,” added eighth-grader Yuri Estrada. 

Heidi Henning, a 2005 graduate of East Grand Rapids High School, starred as Alice in Coffill’s first show and attended the final dress rehearsal for his last show.  

“He was one of the cool teachers,” Henning remembered. “When I think of him, I think of ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus;’ he finds the underdogs and gives them a chance. He gave me a chance to play Alice and it’s still the coolest thing I’ve ever done, besides having my children.” 

Harry Coffill, left, looks at a scrapbook with photos from his first show with former student Heidi Henning at the dress rehearsal for his final show

Read more from Godfrey-Lee: 
Puppets help ‘The Little Prince’ safely take the stage
District library furnishings to get upgrade

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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