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Posted: 12/25/13

Theater students earn top
ranks at state festival

Kendra Walls inducted
into hall of fame

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Fans of the Romeo Theatre Company consider its performances superior, and now, so does Michigan's thespians.
       Students and instructors in Romeo High School's theater program earned the highest rankings and honors at the 2013 Michigan Thespian Festival on Dec. 6 and 7.
       The festival, held at Saginaw Valley State University, offers theater troupes the chance to attend workshops with professionals and participate in judged acting and stage management competitions.
       Romeo theater instructor Kendra Walls said students prepared for the competitions as early as September, picking their own pieces or taking suggestions or assignments given by her or instructor Dawn Borlinghaus.
       "Some judges want to see teenagers play teenagers, and some don't like that, but you don't know who your judges are going into it," Walls said.
       Their hard work paid off, as all competing Romeo students achieved either a superior or excellent ranking, the former being the highest attainable level. Walls said she was proud of her students, especially as new curriculum requirements make it stressful for students to graduate while taking extracurricular classes.
       "The arts are still alive and well at Romeo," she said.
       Students received a superior ranking in the following categories:
       • Monologue<Emily Gilbert, Megan Ross, Carly Wilson.
       • Group Acting<Avery Beadle, Andrea Berry, Mackenzie Schmidt.
       • Duet Acting<Courtney Cronin, Adam Krstich, Ross, Mackenzie Sprecher.
       • Music Theatre Solo<Beadle, Olivia Belfie.
       • Duet Musical Theatre<Belfie, Nick Sienkiewicz.
       • Duet Dance<Maddy Petz, Jennifer Pries.
       • Solo Dance<Petz, Pries.
       Students that earned an excellent ranking, the second highest to achieve, include the following:
       • Stage Management<Jessica Tibboles.
       • Theatre Marketing<Jeff Farkas.
       • Duet Acting<Emma West, Megan Vandeberghe.
       • Duet Musical _ Olivia Brown, Cronin, Andrea Martin, Vandeberghe.
       • Solo Musical<Sienkiewicz.
       Students could also audition for college scholarships at the festival. Senior Jackie Szewczyk was the only Romeo senior to audition and was offered a scholarship to Rochester College.
       "I like the weekend because I think competing and bonding for a weekend is just something you will take with you into the work force no matter what field you go into," Walls said.
       Students recognized the festival did more than boost their college applications, with many of them saying it has given them life skills.
       "When I went in to interview for my job I felt so much more comfortable than I ever thought I would," said Cronin, a junior. "It gives you experience interacting with people."
       Krstich, a junior who competed for the first time, said he likes that Romeo's theater program gains notoriety from the festival not only from schools at the festival, but from other Romeo students.
       "I was surprised at how supportive our peers were, and even if they didn't necessarily understand what a superior was . . . they could understand what it meant," she said. "It actually sparked a lot of people's interest in theater."
       Brown, a senior, said it was a little intimidating to go since three Romeo students were among the top 10 students in the state last year.
       "It was big shoes to fill out, but I think we did very well this year," she said. "It's good to know there are people who are underneath us upperclassmen to take our spots when we leave."
       The students weren't the only ones to walk away with awards. Walls was inducted into the 2013 Michigan Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame during the weekend.
       "I didn't see it coming," Walls said, adding that she owes a big thanks to Borlinghaus for her work with the program.
       The Romeo Theatre Company also had the honor of performing its latest production, "Just Another High School Play," during the opening night of the festival. Only four of the 45 attending schools perform during the festival, and this marked the second year in a row for Romeo to perform.
       "It was a lot to juggle, but we pulled it off," said Ross, a junior.


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Retrieved 4/17/2014 at 8:13:37 PM.
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