About 300 attend Blue Masker benefit play

Published 3:38 am Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pearl River Central Drama Teacher Deborah Craig estimated that about 300 people attended the benefit performance of “The Winner” at Resurrection Life Church in Picayune on Friday night. The PRC  troupe of thespians gave the performance to help raise money for its trip to regional competition in Lexington, Ky.

Craig said funds collected through donations at the benefit pushed the troupe from Pearl River Central to within $700 of the $17,000 needed to finance the thespians trip to the Southeastern Theatre Conference this week.

The drama teacher said she felt sure that by departure time, the troupe will have reached its goal, which will allow them to travel by charter bus rather than in a yellow school bus.

The troupe has budgeted for a charter bus because a charter will allow them to arrive more rested and relaxed after the grueling 14-hour trip from Carriere to Lexington.

The Southeastern conference is the South’s largest theatre conference. This year is the 61st convention for the theatre organization, considered one of the most elite competitions in the U.S. More than 4,000 will participate in the event.

Pearl River Central came in second at the recent state theatre festival in Tupelo, and PRC thespian Landon Skipper was named the best actor in the state. Skipper is a senior and plans to attend UNO and major in film and theater.

The Blue Maskers, as the troupe is officially known, plans to depart the Pearl River Central campus on Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the 14-hour drive to Lexington, where they will perform “The Winner” on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

However, they won’t know who the festival winner is until a Friday night banquet when the winner will be announced. The local theatre troupe will be competing against about 20 troupes from 10 Southeastern states.

The Blue Maskers will return to Carriere on Sunday, probably arriving by midnight, said Craig.

If the troupe wins at Lexington — and they will face some of the stiffest competition in the nation there — the actors will win a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, for a performance before world judges.

Teachers who work with the troupe say that this group of PRC actors is something special. They are disciplined, talented and hard-working. They have practiced the play so much that they are almost flawless in presenting it.

Craig says that no matter what happens, “this has been a special year, and we want to thank all the wonderful people and supporters out their who have helped us. And, of course, I want to thank our guest director Judy Myers this year who has been an integral part of our success.”