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Cribz: “Theater House” brightens Main Street with showtunes, sports and soirees

Lizzy Hinman, Harry Gale, Lily Fitzsimmons, Maddy Smith, Molly Stone and Zander Otavka, all class of ’20, live together in a house on Main Street are all heavily involved in theater at Grinnell. Photo by Ingrid Meulemans.

By Ingrid Meulemans

Grinnellians living just north of campus should refrain from calling the police in response to disruptive noises. If you hear fragments of Defying Gravity or Don’t Rain On My Parade being shouted into the streets late at night, it’s most likely the inhabitants of 1221 Main Street, and not something to be concerned about.

Lizzy Hinman, Harry Gale, Lily Fitzsimmons, Maddy Smith, Molly Stone and Zander Otavka, all class of ’20, are very aware of their current volume level. As members of their self-described “Theater House,” this natural projection is part of the package. Friends since first year, the six all met one way or another in the complicated and overlapping channels of Grinnell’s theater department. Apparently, Hinman, Otavka and Stone had all joked about living together when they first met as part of the Neverland Players, and are overjoyed to see their fantasy realized.

“We have become one big happy family,” admitted Stone. “And I think what’s incredible is that we are all involved in theater. Five of us are majors and Zander is just heavily involved — an enthusiast if you will — but the great thing is we all melded together and the house really lent itself to that.”

After coming back from abroad, the group was overjoyed to find their dream house. Describing it as clean, welcoming, warm and homey, the housemates have loved and appreciated all that the house has brought to their collective dynamic. Instead of being a “Theater Only” house, 1221 has also become a sort of hub for professional sports viewing.

“So, what is nice about this house,” said Gale, “is that it is the perfect football house. Unless I am watching the Jets, which I have to watch in my room or else the environment gets toxic, Maddy and I will come back from class late on Thursday nights and watch the game. And whenever I have buddies over, I can listen to the game while making us our Totino’s pizza rolls or pigs in a blanket in the kitchen,” admitted Gale.

“Thursday night football is free on Amazon Prime!” added Smith, seemingly without being motivated by monetary compensation from the corporation itself.

Hosting and entertaining, it appears, are core values for the housemates. Smith and Fitzsimmons rave about the space 1221 Main provides for combining different social spheres. As a member of the varsity volleyball team as well as being a theater major, Smith understands the pressures that seem to exist between these two groups. As a result of this, she grabs on to any opportunity she can to host a dance party in the house’s living room.

The key to a good dance floor? Pushing the table into the kitchen. According to the housemates, the setup is perfect for both mingling and letting loose.

These soirees are assisted, however, with Otavka’s presence as a sort of bartender.

“I have been in the process of assembling a bar,” said Otavka. “I have a book of a thousand cocktails recipes, and I just like to invite friends over and have cocktail parties with my glassware and my fine spirits.”

According to the other five, it’s Otavka’s flair for hosting that makes this house truly their home.

“One night when we came back from Frozen 2,” started Smith, “Zander had his friends over for a cocktail hour. They were just sitting here in soft lighting sipping their drinks, and I was like, wow, this is home. This is our home.”

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