Theater troupes return with awards
Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 23, 2016
Last weekend, the Pearl River Central High School Blue Maskers and Picayune Memorial High School’s High Tide Productions represented Pearl River County at the Mississippi Theatre Association’s Theatre Festival in Meridian at the Riley Center.
Although neither of the groups advanced to the national competition, many of the actors and actresses received awards and made contacts with college scouts.
PRC’s first-year drama teacher, Amber Mauldin said her first time at state competition was positive and educational.
“It was so cool to see the kids in their environment amongst friends, as was I,” she said. “You get to do your thing. I’m glad I was able to advance them to state competition this year. Although we didn’t go further, I’m proud of them for trusting me to take them as far as I could take them.”
The Blue Maskers performed local author Deborah Craig’s adaption of the ancient Indian tale “Shakuntala and the Ring of Recollection.”
Three of her students received a total of 15 college callbacks, Mauldin said, which means college scouts are interested in their abilities and want them to audition at the college.
Dane Crosby and Matthew LaVergne received six callbacks and Montana Barron received three.
Crosby also placed third in the state in the male monologue individual event competition.
Crosby and Sam Rogers received honorable mention for best costumes.
Dallen O’Briant was awarded a special honor for excellence in original composition.
Hayley Smith won the all-star cast award and Gabbi Johnson placed 16th in the state in the solo female musical individual event.
PMHS drama director William Rester said the group’s performance in Meridian was probably the best performance they’ve done.
“The show grew each time and they did exactly what they were supposed to do, they left it all on the floor in Meridian, even if we didn’t advance,” Rester said.
The group performed “The Last Illusion,” a play set in the 1920s highlighting the life of the famous illusionist Harry Houdini.
Rester said he learned there was anecdotal evidence that Houdini once performed at the Riley Center in Meridian in 1907.
“We can’t confirm that, but the kids enjoyed that thought,” Rester said. “It was a cool experience. State is tough. There are eight other schools, equally as good. You just show up, perform and hope for the best. I’m also very thrilled for all the community support and excitement we received this year about our show.”
Jack Sauls and Katy Fuller received all-star cast awards for their portrayal of Harry and Bess Houdini.
High Tide Productions also received two of the major awards given out, overall technical excellence and best scenic design.
“The judges praised us for getting started immediately,” Rester said. “The technical excellence was in regards to our lighting, sound, set up, movement and magic tricks.”
Both directors are already planning for future performances.
Mauldin has chosen next year’s play, which she is keeping a secret. Not even her students know yet.
Rester is planning to unveil a new show, “Love of Oranges,” at the end of February. He will also be announcing a musical very soon. Both shows will be open to the public.