23 theatre students win state competition, advance to nationals


Cate Emma Warren

Highlighted by the light, senior Charlize Fedele sings “Rose’s turn” from Gypsy. Fedele’s solo musical won at the state competition and she will be moving on to nationals. “I have been competing since my junior year in ITS,” Fedele said. “Last year, I played Euridice, in a group acting event, and our group won. I am currently competing in the solo musical category and it is very different from being with a group but still very rewarding.”

Cate Emma Warren, Reporter - Theatre Beat

To submit entries into the Texas Thespians Competition, the theatre department filmed multiple different pieces and plays over the week of Nov. 2 and entered them. Results should be announced this weekend, beginning Dec. 5.

The competition is usually an additional event that is held during the annual Texas Thespians Festival. The festival traditionally takes place at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, Texas. This year, however, the organization has switched the festival to be four days of virtual events, which they are calling “Super Saturdays.”

Posing at the end of performing their song, senior Olivia Lewis and sophomore Austin Rose, sing the final notes. Lewis and Rose sang “Moving On” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, which is a musical centered around the French painter Georges Seurat and his work “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” “We picked the song because we liked how Austin’s character George developed and changed because of Dot, my character,” Lewis said. “It’s a really beautiful song about moving on in life and continuing to live and make art despite the challenges you face. Nothing is easy with Sondheim, so it took us some time to get the notes and rhythms of the song secured, and once we had that we really made sure we knew who the characters were and what they wanted and what they were trying to say, so we could create an interesting piece. Then came blocking and refining the movements and the emotions in the song before we were ready to film it. All in all, we practiced for about two months.” (Cate Emma Warren)

“While we miss being with all the other troupes from around the state, we are still striving to create excellence in our competition pieces and participating in the e-learning experiences that are available to us,” director Vicki Kirkley said. “I certainly hope they decide to have nationals in person but I also realize our students’ safety has to come first.”

The competitions, also known as “The Thespy’s,” are national qualifying events in which troupes from all over Texas compete to attend the National Thespian convention held in June. This year students competed by submitting videos of their work.

During each of the Individual Events, or IES, participants are required to wear all black clothing. The cost of competing in an event is $15 per student. Actors can perform in the categories of Monologue, Duet Acting, Group Acting, Solo Musical, Duet Musical, and Group Musical. The Technical Events consist of Costume Construction, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, Sound Design, Stage Management, Theatre Marketing, and Makeup Design.

Mid-scene, junior Ailee McFarland recites her lines while junior Karolina Rubio, sophomore Madeleine Wentz, senior Emily Mongaras and junior Jessie Kuhn gather around her. The team performed “The Insanity of Mary Girard” for the Group Acting competition. “To decide the piece, we looked at a whole bunch of scripts to choose what would be best for our little group and where we would all be strong,” McFarland said. “Working together worked so well. We were a really strong team and worked really hard to create something we ended up being really proud of.” (Cate Emma Warren)

“(With the events being virtual,) I feel relief because I can record multiple times without messing up,” senior costume designer Phoenix Gothard said. “I like having that buffer so that I can do the very best that I possibly can. Waiting for feedback is definitely more stressful because instead of finding out in a couple hours or the next day, I have to wait a month instead of just finding out immediately so the stress lasts longer, and it is constantly on my mind whether or not I’ll make it especially since it’s my senior year and I want to qualify for nationals.”

As listed on the Texas Thespians website, to qualify for NIES at the International Thespian Festival, students have to receive an overall assessment rating of superior.

Participants that receive perfect scores, which is three superior rankings, are invited to perform at callbacks. From those callbacks, a small group is chosen to perform at the final mainstage event.

While discussing the creative process, sophomore Zarah Leivers reaches for her handmade dress. Leivers competed in the costume design competition for her individual event. She created a dress inspired by the production “Hairspray.” “It took me about three days to complete my piece and come up with the idea,” Leviers said. (Cate Emma Warren)

“I’ve been a part of ITS for three years,” senior Emily Mongaras said. “It’s absolutely amazing, however virtual events are not my favorite because they used to be super interactive and fun. I feel that COVID-19 took that away which defeats the purpose of the events.”

A majority of students in the musical theatre class all participated in a group musical event. The class performed “Welcome to the Rock” from the musical “Come from Away.”

“We got the group together before to pick a song,” sophomore musical theatre student Lauren Grammer said. “(We picked one) that played to our strengths as a group instead of everyone individually.”

Editor’s Note: The main article first published on Dec. 7, 2020. This story has been updated to include the results from the state competition.