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GBHS Variety Show reunion planned
new varietyshow pic
Shown is a scene from a past Great Bend High School Variety Show. A reunion show for former show performers is planned for Oct. 8. - photo by Tribune file photo

A Great Bend High School Variety Show reunion will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, in the high school auditorium. A reception for the participants and former music directors will follow.
It is open to all former participants. Those wanting to take part can e-mail Susan Stambaugh at

Wanted: A few good performers, or at least some well-seasoned ones.
After 40 years as an end-of-the-year Great Bend High School tradition, the GBHS music departments are planning the first-ever Variety Show reunion. The auditorium curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, the evening after the high school’s fall homecoming. A reception for the participants and former music directors will follow.
“Anyone who has ever been in the show can come in and recreate their acts,” said Susan Stambaugh, vocal music director. “We want them to do all, or part, of the same skit they did.”
These can be solos, ensembles or large group performances. Stambaugh will try to accommodate whoever wants to be involved.
On that Saturday, Stambaugh said the participants and directors will figure out the staging for the acts in the morning and hold a rehearsal in the afternoon. She just asks the performers to list their needs when they contact her.
“The main thing now is we want to boost interest,” she said. Those wanting to take part can e-mail Stambaugh at
The May, 2012, installment will mark the 41st anniversary. “So, we’re celebrating 40 years and still going strong,” Stambaugh said. She has overseen the annual event for 18 years.
“It started out as a fund raiser because we needed a new piano,” said former GBHS instrumental instructor Joe Boley. Boley along with vocal teacher Phil Szajunuk planned and executed the first Variety Show in 1971.
Boley said Szajunuk had taken part in a similar show as a student in Wichita and thought it would be a good fit for Great Bend. They sold the GBHS administration on the idea “and it blossomed from there.”
The grand piano has long since been paid for. The money raised by the show now buys the elaborate costumes and props, and pads the music departments budgets.
“Over the years, sometimes there’s been a theme and sometimes there hasn’t been a theme,” Boley said. “Some have been lengthy and some haven’t been lengthy.”
It has evolved and taken on the personality of the directors – from Boley and Szajunuk to Jenny Allford to Stambaugh. “You don’t stay in the same rut,” Boley said. “It just keeps growing.”
In the early days, the show was pretty rudimentary. “We had simple audio equipment and simple lighting. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. Now, its gotten pretty sophisticated.”
It has also grown from two nights to three.
But, even today, “the kids learn lots of stuff,” Boley said. Staging a variety show is about more than getting on stage. The students have to understand costuming , technical and other backstage skills as well.
“It’s been a good ride,” Boley said.
He’s excited about the reunion and said he’s sure there are some folks around town who would like another shot at being in the spotlights.