Blue Maskers advance to national convention

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PRC Junior Dallen O'Briant won a judge's award for his composition and performance of the musical  score for Lady White Snake. Photo by Cassandra Favre

PRC Junior Dallen O’Briant won a judge’s award for his composition and performance of the musical score for Lady White Snake.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Last week, the Pearl River Central High School Blue Maskers Troupe attended the statewide theater festival at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
On Monday, theater director Ginger Schmidt announced that the group received runner-up and were invited to attend the Southeastern Theater Conference in March.
According to Schmidt, eight schools from the state met to perform their shows for the judges. Only two schools advanced, Oak Grove and Pearl River Central.
The Blue Maskers performed an adaptation of the classic Chinese folktale “Lady White Snake.”
“The kids cried and were very excited,” Schmidt said. “The look of shock on our faces involved no acting. It was genuine and we were just thrilled. Before they walked on stage, I told the group that no matter what happens, leave it on the stage. Don’t exit the stage regretting anything you did.”
Along with a group performance, members of the troupe auditioned for college recruits and performed in individual performances, Schmidt said.
Junior Dane Crosby received two callbacks from college recruiters and junior Hayley Smith received paperwork from the university of her choice, Schmidt said.
Crosby, who portrays Hsu Chen in “Lady White Snake,” received third place for his costume design in his individual performance of “The Wiz,” Schmidt said.
Crosby along with co-star Brooke Huddleston, who played the part of Lady White Snake, received all-star cast awards for their performances in “Lady White Snake.”
Junior Dallen O’Briant composed and performed the entire musical score for the local adaptation of the Chinese folktale. He won a special judge’s award for original composition and live accompaniment, Schmidt said.
According to the website, the SETC will be held in Chattanooga, Tenn. from March 4 through 8. The convention is a gathering of more than 4,000 actors, professional company representatives, design and technical professionals, theater educators, students from universities and high schools, commercial exhibitors, university representatives and community theater producers coming together to learn more about theater.
There will be representatives from eleven different states at the convention, Schmidt said. If the group wins at this convention, they will receive an invitation and a tuition grant to the Fringe Festival in Europe.
Schmidt said the estimated cost for the group to attend the SETC is about $30,000 and she is already planning fundraisers.
If anyone is interested in donating to the Blue Maskers Troupe, they can contact Schmidt at 601-798-1986 or through email at
Schmidt said her students made her proud.
“The judges want to send people they know will do a great job presenting Mississippi on a national level,” Schmidt said.
“One of the judges said to me ‘you ever have one of those days when something really great happens and you’re so glad that you woke up? Well, that just happened to me.’ He told me that after the troupe’s performance of Lady White Snake. He appreciated how much reverence and respect we showed for the folktale and that we stayed true to the story and Asian style of theater.”
Schmidt said she plans to schedule one or two more public performances before the group heads to SETC in March.

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