It was a special year going into the competition, with the One Act cast and crew being selected to represent our district with a performance at the spectacular Morsani Hall in the sprawling Straz Performing Arts Center complex in Tampa. Additionally, the troupe was once again taking the maximum number of six individual events. Each event is adjudicated by a panel of three judges who award scores of either Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, or Superior. Awards are given for pieces rated Excellent or Superior. Directed by Canterbury's Academic Dean and Director of Fine & Performing Arts, Dr. William Eyerly, Thespian Troupe #5782 had a school record of 31 students selected to compete at State this year. There are nearly sixty active International Thespian Honor Society members in the Upper School.
First up was the one-act #VIRAL. As the first show to perform at Morsani Hall on Thursday morning, the cast and crew had to shake off the nerves of performing in the massive hall. After unloading the set backstage, the cast was immediately ushered off to the dressing room and 35 minutes later they performed on stage.
The one-act receives both a technical score and a performance score. After delivering their most emotional performance ever of #VIRAL, the cast and crew met for a face-to-face critique with the judges. The cast and crew celebrated when the initial scores revealed that the crew had earned an award of SUPERIOR for technical excellence. Stage Manager Michael M. ’19, Assistant Stage Manager Jay M. ’19, Lighting and Sound operators Magnolia C. ’19 and Richard Y. ’19, as well as the stage crew of Calvin W. ’20 and Auston B. ’20, all received awards of SUPERIOR. The performance results took longer to come in and it was a bit of a roller coaster. In the end, the judges split with one awarding a superior and the other an excellent. However, the final average netted an award of EXCELLENT for the cast of Summer M. ’20, Aaliyah J. ’20, Sophia Y. ’19, May B. ’20, Arabella L. ’21, Madison F. ’20, Kinley G. ’21, Abby S. ’21, Bailey W. ’20, Cosette D. ’19, Elle S. ’21, Nina W. ’20, Selin H. ’21, and Shay D. ’22.
Thursday afternoon, the Duet Acting team of Christian M. ’20 and Aaliyah J. ’20 performed a dynamic scene from Christopher Durang's "Baby with the Bathwater". The comedic timing and chemistry of the scene were outstanding, earning the troupe another SUPERIOR for the day.
Friday was a busy day with four events on the docket. First up was a student-directed ensemble scene from "You Can't take it with You". The judges praised the superb director's book and notes of Michael M. ’19. They loved the chaos and the use of space as well. When the scores came back, Michael and his cast featuring Calvin W. ’20, Humberto R. ’19, Sophia Y. ’19, Justin B. ’19, Summer M. ’20, Jay M. ’19, Madison F. ’20, and Kole Y. ’21 were awarded SUPERIOR for their efforts.
The action quickly shifted to the historic Tampa Theatre where the pantomime team of Jay M. ’19, Hunter B. ’19, and Spencer B. ’20 was on stage performing their original pantomime entitled "The Monster". After delivering perhaps their finest performance of the piece, two scores of superior quickly came back from the judges. However, the third judge's excellent score brought the average to less than a point shy of the top award and the guys celebrated a final award of EXCELLENT proudly.
Friday closed out with two back to back events in the afternoon. The first featured an Ensemble acting team of Madison F. ’20, Noah B. ’20, Bailey W. ’20, Nina W. ’20, Ben D. ’20 and Ben S. ’20 performing a gut-wrenching scene from "Bang, Bang, You're Dead". Dr. Eyerly notes, "This scene is an emotionally charged performance involving a school shooting. It was the highest degree of difficulty to deliver effectively and sensitively and the kids were spectacular." The judges also praised the sensitivity and powerful performances awarding the highest EXCELLENT score possible.
Immediately following, in an adjacent performance space, the Duet Musical team of Taylor C. ’21 and Christian M. ’20 were performing. Their dramatic and vocally powerful rendition of "If I Told You" from the "Wedding Singer" musical wowed the crowd and ultimately the judges. The duo earned a SUPERIOR for the number.
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, it was Magnolia’s turn in the spotlight with the beautiful, French Renaissance-styled dress she made to be worn by the lead in Moliere's "School for Wives". The attention to detail and period accuracy of the dress, combined with the practicality engineered in the design for actor comfort, won the judges approval. Magnolia closed the competition out for Canterbury with yet another SUPERIOR. In the end, the State performers netted five awards of SUPERIOR and three awards of EXCELLENT.
With 7,500 students attending and competing, the Florida State Thespian festival is the largest theatrical competition in the world. It is tough to earn excellent awards let alone superior. "I am so proud of our students," Dr. Eyerly stated. "We set a goal three years ago, of nothing below excellent at state, and we have continued to meet that standard. We wanted every student to be in a position to perform their best. Please join me in celebrating each and every one of them!"