Jump Onstage with Jake Doctor

Jake Doctor recently graduated from Forest Hills Eastern and will be studying Biology at Aquinas College with hopes of a future in medicine. But what you might not be able to tell from his career aspirations is that he is one of the area’s best and youngest tenor singers. He’s acted in multiple productions, most recently in FHE’s “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”


“I first became interested in theatre when I saw my friend Maddie, who is now studying musical theatre in New York, starring in the high school’s production of Annie as just a freshman. What really tipped the scales though happened three years later when I saw Wicked on Broadway during an orchestra field trip. Watching Fiyero own the stage with his charm and swagger during “Dancing Through Life” made me want to give theatre a try, so that next week I auditioned for my first show, Music Man.”

What’s your favorite memory of a performance?

“My favorite memory on stage would have to be when I was playing the role of William Barfée in a community production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. putnam At the end of my big number in that show “Magic Foot,” I could hear twenty of my friends  cheering for me in the audience. It was great to see the support of so many of my friends… theatre friends are some of the best friends you can find.”

Dream big, readers! Here are all the productions Jake acted in during his high school years (while being involved in other extracurricular activities such as Varsity tennis and playing cello in the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, we might add):

-Forest Hills Eastern High School’s production of The Music Man (Salesmen #5/Ewart Dunlop of the Barbershop Quartet)

another-Vocal Music Workshop’s production of High School Musical (Part of the brainiac clique)
-Forest Hills Public School Summerstock’s production of Hairspray (Bum on Barroom Stool/Ensemble) (photo right)

-Forest Hills Eastern’s Production of Once on this Island (Daniel Beauxhomme)
-StageGR’s production of Aladdin Jr. (Aladdin)
-Forest Hills Public School Sunmerstock’s production of The Addams Family (conquistador ancestor)
-StageGR’s production of Seussical the Musical (The General, the Grinch, Vlad Vladikoff, and Yertle the Turtle)

-Forest Hills Eastern’s production of Cinderella (Prince Topher)
-StageGR’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (William Barfée)
– Forest Hills Public Schools Summerstock’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Reuben (singer of “Those Canaan Days”))


“The difficulties I’ve faced have always been being too timid. My advice would be to just go for it. Creativity to me is doing something different and maybe unexpected. You can’t find something different if you never step out of the safety of your “comfort zone.”

Music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I see it as a way to express myself, an escape when life isn’t what I want it to be, and maybe most importantly a way in which to continue to improve myself. For those reasons it’s very important that I keep music involved in my life, which is why I plan to be a take up a minor in music.”


“Involvement in the arts, mostly musical theatre, has changed the way I interact with others and the way I see myself. I used to be the kid who would stay home every weekend and almost never socialize outside of school, but being in theatre and being a part of this community of the most supportive people you’ll ever meet has made me a much more confident and sociable person.”

Thanks, Jake, for interviewing with Hyype! We wish you the best in your college career and life!

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Interview edited for grammar and clarity.

Thoughts with Alex Beecroft

written by Kelsey May | July 22, 2017

I recently sat down with Alex Beecroft, an activist, writer, organizer, and all-around lovely person. His attitude and smile are infectious, and if you ever see him in person, he would love to meet you (and cook with you and probably hug you). He helped found the Grand Rapids Autonomous Support System (G.R.A.S.S.) last year and is happy to say that it’s grown into an independently thriving organization.

Photo credit: Koviak Design Festivals

So Alex, I first became acquainted with you after hearing you perform poems at open mics around town, gosh, two years ago maybe? And then I saw you regularly working at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market and eventually coordinating G.R.A.S.S. events. What are you up to these days?

I’m putting a lot of my creative energy into spaces, in the hope of making places [where] people feel safe to be vulnerable. That opens up the fertile grounds for healing.

Where did you learn the importance of community?

I’m from West Virginia [originally]. Lots of family members moved [to Grand Rapids] over the course of thirteen years. My grandparents came here just three years ago. I was the single child of a single mom, so we forged a really tight bond growing up. We had memorable dinner conversations growing up, [talking about] philosophy, politics, what is right or isn’t right.

I attended Catholic school [in West Virginia], and I was one of only six boys in my class. Honestly, I didn’t get shoved into the walls [at school] here. I would not be who I am if I hadn’t moved here.

Tell me more about G.R.A.S.S.

G.R.A.S.S. came to be out of the idea that our society is going through very tumultuous times, and we need to go through significant changes in order to survive as a species. Too many people follow the idea that it’s each man for himself. We need community to build human bonds and build trust in the understanding that working for someone else’s well-being is working for your own well-being.

When there’s that communal trust, we can localize our resources and food production. Lack of reliance on the greater systems makes the larger systems irrelevant.

And that’s when change can happen, structurally speaking.

Right. We reach a consensus for all our group actions. It sounds radical, but we should return to city-state governments because people will be more empowered and have more say locally. In starting G.R.A.S.S., equal empowerment is really vital. G.R.A.S.S. exists for sincere human bonding. Right now, it’s focused on connections and inspiration, on everyone’s ability to create and manifest into being what they hold in their heart. We’ve found a lot of resonance in art events, like the Spectacle.

We pushed it to the next phase with the Sweetgrass Sage + Burn Transformational Festival. We introduced a workshop and communal education aspect over the two days so [attendees] could understand what’s going on in the world around all of us more deeply.

Photo credit: Samantha Breen

Can I ask you about your poetry?


Tell me about your writing process. Your poems focus almost exclusively on positive experiences, people, and self-reflection. 

So that focus came about early on. I was less than a year into my experience as a spoken word poet; while writing my Mahatma Gandhi piece, my mom stopped me and asked, “Why should I listen?” I understood on a deep level that there’s the poetry and the art that we [create] for ourselves and [there’s] the content we share with the world, [which] needs to have substance to it.

Poetry has this ability to present ideas to anyone who is actively listening to it. I like to use poetry to talk to people about the world around us. I [also] like to engage people emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Photo credit: Phoenix Photography

When did you start writing?

On the forum of Neopets. Someone would start [a message thread] with a theme, anything from day in the life to having elemental powers. I really remember one [that had] a Hogwarts-style theme. That was the first time I got into using the written word and feeling creatively powerful.

How has spoken word impacted you?

I first heard spoken word at Dr. Grin’s I think in fall 2013. I sat down [with friends], and the whole night, I was really into the content. That was the first time I [enjoyed] a whole night dedicated to poetry.

Encountering poetry and art forms where people express their experiences [has] really helped me understand others. In our community of artists, people use poetry to talk about race and their lives. It’s helped me hold an openness for what people put forward.

Photo credit: Scott Love

G.R.A.S.S. is open to anyone of any age, background, belief system (or lack thereof), or color. To find out more or check out their upcoming events, visit their Facebook page.

Conversation edited for clarity, organization, and grammar.
Featured image photo credit: Joshua Zittel

Outside The Window

Written by Jamie Anderson                                                                                           June 20, 2017

So I made a short film. It’s called “Outside The Window.” My short film was in the KDL Teen Film Festival and even played on the big screen at Celebration! Cinema North. If you wondering what it’s about, click here to watch it!

Basically, it’s about seeing the world, getting away from screens to see nature. It’s important to see what’s outside your comfort zone. The film is silent because I thought that could make a bigger impact on people. Sadly, it did not win anything, but I will be sending in another short film for the next contest!

Do you want to make a short film and send it in? I encourage you to do so! Details here.