Over the years, the Helias hallways have held a great amount of students that would grow up to be rather influential. From politicians to athletes to entertainers, Helias Catholic High School has educated many notable alumni, and current sophomore Ben Stumpe may be rising to their level.
His peers might have seen him on stage as the Cowardly Lion in the school’s production of the “Wizard of Oz” or brightening up the day with his smile as he travels between classes. Throughout his past two years in high school, Stumpe has already made a good impression on many. He’s starred in two school musicals both with very prominent roles. His talent and enthusiasm being the main contributors to his performance.
“He’s a very energetic individual and he’s always in a good mood. He’s creative and can think on his toes too,” said Rachael Smith, a close friend of Stumpe’s. “Honestly, he’s just so energetic, I don’t understand how.”
Stumpe’s energy and creativity not only play a large part in performance but also in his everyday life. Music and entertainment have been his passion since he was young, beginning with piano lessons and leading into song, dance and performance.
(Ben Stumpe makes faces for the camera at Helias Catholic High School.)
“I go to camps in Chicago for improv and stand up and acting,” said Stumpe. “I’ve been to Los Angeles at Center Studios for musical theater and acting. It’s a weeklong workshop and we focus on music, theater with dance, singing, vocal performance and acting.”
When speaking of his personal motivation, Stumpe kept things simple.
“I just enjoy it. People think it’s really scary to go on stage but it just feels like real life to me. I don’t think I act very differently on stage than off stage. I just try to make people smile, be happy and laugh.”
Stumpe’s positive attitude toward his performances and personal motivations have also allowed him to face difficulties that he’s had in life. Trying to find the bright side in even the most painful situations has helped him overcome obstacles that would otherwise be a distraction from an otherwise good day. Not to mention that his prayer life has also helped him during these difficult times.
“Anything before and after a big event are the times I probably pray the most,” said Stumpe. “Whenever I’m on stage I always ask God to help me do great, and after a big performance it’s always best to thank God, whether it’s good or bad, because it can always be seen as a learning experience.”
His goals aren’t unlike any other student his age, as his high school years go on, Stumpe plans to continue getting good grades keeping his 4.0 and building up his resume towards college, more than likely it will be one in Chicago. He wants to become a teacher as an adult, and while he hasn’t chosen any subjects to specialize in, Stumpe would prefer teaching in the arts such as music and performance. Although, if his work in college allows him to follow a professional career as an entertainer that would also be a great path to follow.
Regarding his previous performances, Stumpe remains very proud of himself, if not also just a bit humble. Although he was the only one to try out for the Cowardly Lion role, he enjoyed playing the character to the best of his ability.
“I just feel like I need to be up there on stage,” said Stumpe. “It’s just a lot of fun working with everyone and different people every single day.”
To prepare for his role, Stumpe made sure to study Bert Lahr who played the Cowardly Lion in the film version of the “Wizard of Oz” and observed “The Wiz” and a production of the “Wizard of Oz” with an all-female cast. These observations came together to create his unique and grand performance.
Taking all this in, it’s easy to think that Stumpe’s life runs a million miles a minute with little to no breaks. But that isn’t how he sees it. With the exception of eating and sleeping, his time spent practicing the arts is how he relaxes.
“I just sing and dance whenever I can, I mean that’s what relaxes me…apart from laughing,” said Stumpe.