Tuesday, April 22, 2008

REV: One-Act Play Regionals

At Regional One-Act Play Competition our home school, Ingram Tom Moore, was selected as the state alternate play, with Wimberley and Zapata High Schools advancing to the State Contest, April 24th at Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Oddly enough both winners are doing versions of the same piece The History of Tom Jones.

It was still a great trip through the "playoffs" for this ITM one-act cast as many were complete newcomers to theatre. Their Twelfth Night won raves from everyone who saw them, including every judge along the way. In one of the most surprising, and delightful, indications of how accomplished the cast became, every single competition produced a coveted Best Actor or Best Actress award for Ingram, with Kylie Nidever being named Best Actress at Regionals. Ingram had four such awards over the course of the season -- a different actor or actress at every competition -- Kylie, Madelyn Beaudoin, Lindsey Morris and Kaleb Dworsky. Also winning recognition at Regionals, on the Honorable Mention Cast,were Kaleb and Madelyn.

The lineup for 3A State Competition is Wimberley, Zapata, Decatur, Van, Seminole, Caldwell, Mexia and Lucas Lovejoy High Schools. Shows begin at 4:00 p.m. with four schools competing before dinner break, with Wimberley and Zapata among them. Four more schools will launch at 7:30 p.m.

At Regionals, ITM put on one of their best shows of the season, in my opinion topped only by their District performace where they were on fire across the boards. If they had any weaknesses at Regionals, it was due mostly to the width of the stage -- an issue that plagued them at Area also. However, by the time of Regionals they had made some adjustments to blocking and set design to accommodate the large stage. Nevertheless the increased width created time lag in a number of dialogue cues that tended to slow the piece down in ways that were not the fault of the kids.

I tihnk it was especially appropriate that Kylie was named Best Actress (and lauded by the judge for her work with her eyes and expressions). I think she has been wonderful all along this year, and has somehow been missed at awards time for the most part. She has been a steady, brilliant presence on stage for Ingram.

Also coming into their own for this final performance were Caleb Weaver, Logan Stehling and Tara Frels who played the supporting characters Orsino, Sebastian and Olivia respectively. All three have come a long way over the course of the season and it was most fitting that their final performance was easily their best.

It probably needs no saying to our local in-tune-with-OAP folks that among our shining stars were Shana Baldwin, Taylor Danielson, Kaleb Dworsky, Lindsey Morris and Madelyn Beaudoin. Each of these leads has been exceptional for us on stage this year, as well as being outstanding leaders in the program. Unfortunately the very fine Taylor Danielson has been left out of awards -- he's off to college and he should have had the satisfaction of some recognition for his years of helping us out, all the way back to his junior high performance of Gavroche in Les Miserables. Congrats to all.

And to all the other kids involved with the ITM show, especially the support who get little notice -- Katrina Greenshield, Laura Kulbicki, Tino Rodriguez, and Tanya Gardner, and the fantastic crew rounded up by Holly and Marie, including Zack Morris, Jordan Spradling, Benton del Toro and Jason Gardner, and our understudies Macy Wilson and Brendan Flowers.

Our fellow District members, and becoming quite good friends, Wimberley High School, put on a dynamite rendition of their The History of Tom Jones. It was in my opinion their best performance since their Festival -- with a fine sense of the drama inherent in the piece as well as the dynamics they are so well known for. There were a number of awards for their cast that were, i think, long overdue. Three in particular -- Chris Bakka, playing Blifil, who won the Best Actor award, after so honing his performance that there was no chance to take your eyes off him when he was on stage. His turn was perfection in my mind. And i've thought for weeks now that Andy Patoski and Harry Tork were not getting their due for wonderful performances, week in, week out, but they both received All-Star Cast at Regionals, and i hope that there is more of the same for them at State. Walker Pickens, who plays both Henry Fielding as narrator, and Squire Allworthy, was again most deservedly named All-Star Cast.

There is another All-Star Cast selection that bears the telling of a little story. Just prior to the Wimberley Festival, two of their actors -- Connor Pickens and Bonnie Sturdivant -- were involved in a disatrous wreck that saw both of them hospitalized. Connor had a cracked sternum and was bruised up, Bonnie had a rather severe concussion and other injuries. That put them out of the cast through most of their competitions, and gave a couple of others a chance to move up in cast.

Zeb Duke, who was already in the cast, moved up to take Connor's place in various roles, most notably the Highwayman. Now Zeb, who is a young actor with some real chops, was wonderful as the Highwayman, his broken arm act was choice. And when Zeb moved up, someone took his previous role. Well, between Area and Regionals Connor was well enough to regain his spot, and Zeb willingly gave it up. And Connor was brilliant in the role as well, being named All-Star Cast, deservedly so. But Zeb deserves more than a nod for filling in, and then giving up his role as the honors rose. He also chose to not usurp his own previous role lest it further disrupt their team. What a great gesture. I've said this before, i look forward to what he has to offer in the future -- and now there is the future with both he and Connor on stage together. Special nods to Zeb. And congrats to Connor for his performance.

Bonnie took longer to heal, but i hear that she's going to be in the cast at State. So congrats to her for healing and being able to participate, and much kudos to (i think this is right) Sarah Lindsay for playing Sophie in her absence and doing such a wonderful job of it.

Also for Wimberley, two others who have not had much recognition finally got their due -- Austen Cabler and Cameron Allen. And not really finally, but last for now, a personal favorite Calen Cabler, got left out of the riches at Regionals. I think she is one of the bright characters on the stage for them regardless of whether she is honored. I'm hoping they all get a piece of the action at State.

Zapata's rendition of Tom Jones was equally as thrilling as Wimberley's. It was a different cutting of the play, with a broader focus on lengths of dialogue, which put the focus on characters, although their purely humorous bits were pretty danged funny. Wimberley uses Luis Munoz's cutting of the play which pares the dialogue down to focus on the setups. More of the novel gets appropriated this way, and it has a faster tempo in places. It's really not a matter of which is best, but of enjoying both interpretations. I thoroughly enjoyed Zapata's work. There were a couple of minutes of deadspot mid-play, but otherwise it would be hard to fault them. They, like Wimberley, had excellent actors and characterizations from top to bottom. They had a different take on Blifil (see my Festival comments via the link below), but the kid playing him was excellent and earned All-Star Cast for it -- al he could do when Best Actor was already a Blifil. I didn't think their Tom Jones character stood out as he should, but he was certainly a fine actor.

The three other shows at Regionals each had their fine moments. Indeed, Medina Valley's The White Room of My Remembering i thought was superbly acted, and well played out. I simply thought it was not a very good choice as a one-act competition piece as it is borne along by long, slow stretches -- appropriate for the show, but hardly competition for the whirling dervish of Tom Jones or the tomfoolery of Twelfth Night.

My previous commentary on Area compeition

My previous commentary on the Wimberley Festival



Here is the complete list of Regional awards:
Best Actress -- Kylie Nidever, Ingram Tom Moore
Best Actor -- Chris Bakka, Wimberley

All-Star Cast
Alicia Geurin, Medina Valley
Sarah Braddy, Medina Valley
Walker Pickens, Wimberley
Harry Tork, Wimberley
Andy Patoski, Wimberley
Connor Pickens, Wimberley
Daniel Lerma, Zapata
Melinda Sosa, Zapata

Honorable Mention All-Star Cast
Madelyn Beaudoin, Ingram Tom Moore
Kaleb Dworsky, Ingram Tom Moore
Mario Zavala, Zapata
JenniferGuajardo, Crystal City
Austen Cabler, Wimberley
Cameron Allen, Wimberley
Cassandra Pena, Falfurrias
Jamey Munoz, Falfurrias



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