MHS Theatre shines at State Festival

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MHS Theatre dominated the spotlight at the Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival, which was held Nov. 15-17 at Viterbo University in La Crosse.

The production of the fall one-act Our Place, directed by Abbie Hannam, was selected for the Critic's Choice Award, which represents an elite level of achievement at the State Festival. It was one of 10 awards they received for their performance.

Other accolades earned by Our Place included: directing award, ensemble award, crew award, six outstanding acting honors -- Matthew David as Jake, Zoe Salyapongse as Beth, Danny Molina as Al, Cooper Skubal as Stanley, Evelyn Williams as Sidney, and Eric Molina as Jonathan.

"I'm incredibly proud of the cast and crew who have worked so hard on this production," Hannam said. "It's nice that their hard work was recognized.''

In addition, junior Ava DeCroix qualified in two categories -- acting monologue and musical theatre solo -- and has been invited to perform one of them at the International Thespian Festival in June.

This is the second year DeCroix has earned an overall superior mark to qualify for the ITF.  Students who qualify will perform their piece in front of judges, who offer constructive feedback on their theatrical performance. The judges select some to perform for a larger audience at the Festival.

The MHS Theatre participates in the Festival each summer. Students can take part in workshops, see many theatre performances and meet with recruiters from top college and university theatre programs to interview and audition for admission and to compete for scholarships.  

Other MHS students who competed at the state level include Michael Chiaverini, Torii Snortum Haney, Kayley Hellenbrand and Rachel Reichard.

MHS Theatre performed Our Place at districts on Oct. 20 and at sectionals on Nov. 3. A performance was also held at the Performing Arts Center on  Nov. 1.

On the backdrop of a dock on a small lake, Our Place weaves together five separate stories of love, family and loss. The performance at the PAC was also a fundraiser for the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy to help with clean up and restoration efforts after the Conservancy suffered devastating damage during the floods in August. Hannam said more than $1,000 was raised.

"For many of us, the Pheasant Branch conservancy is Our Place,'' Hannam said. "As a cast and crew, we were proud to share this play as a way to raise funds to bring back the beauty of Our Place.''

More than 1,500 high school students gather each year at the Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival (WHSTF) for three days packed with workshops featuring trained professionals, one-act and individual event contest performances, showcase productions, and exhibitors from theatre vendors to collegiate programs.

The State Festival was established in 1990 by the Wisconsin High School Forensic Association. Visit the WHSTF website to learn more.

Visit the Middleton Theatre website to learn more about Our Place and the other performances for the 2018-19 season.