BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Twenty-seven students from Clarkston High School’s Drama Club joined 1,500 students at the Michigan Thespian Festival this past December. They participated in workshops, classes, theatre events, and auditions for college scholarships.
“I really enjoyed the family like atmosphere about it,” said senior Maureen Stewart. “The support the club gave me and the support I saw go on in different clubs. It makes you feel like what you are doing is important and gives you validation because so many people today don’t realize how important the arts are in our school system and in our world. It’s nice to be around people who share the same passions as you do.”
It’s a thespian festival for students all around Michigan, she said.
“You can compete in different categories these include sound design, lighting design, costuming, musical theatre, acting, dance, tech,” Stewart said.
She added participants can compete in a group, duet or solo and the ratings qualify them for the national level.
Clarkston received a superior rating for three categories – qualifying them for nationals. They received a superior rating for their group dance from last spring’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee” for the song “Woe is Me,” a tap duet, and Stewart’s solo.
The students involved included Stewart, Lucas Bell, Serena Chiappelli, Lauren Dombrowski, Emily Herrmann Wesley Hutchinson, Reilly Kerrigan, Ben Neideck, Lauren Ormsby and Jayce Rothrock.
“I honestly loved this year,” said Kerrigan, about her second time going to the festival. “A lot of my classes I took benefitted what I wanted to do and helped me during auditions. I want to go into musical theater and film. I took a lot of classes based on those like how to audition and how to improv at auditions for film. A lot of film auditions I found out they are not here’s a script or speak a monologue, it’s here’s a scene and I want you to improv it. They helped with how you can improv with it and we played improv games. There was even a Disney class. A casting director from Disneyland basically told us what to expect if you want to go to the Magic Kingdom, and dress up in a princess dress or Mickey Mouse. It’s 90 degree weather, costume is 40 pounds and you are dancing.”
Chiappelli added for her it was nerve-racking and scary.
“I have to do a lot of auditions for musical theater and it was the first one I had ever done,” she said. “It was kind of scary but I am glad it happened because it really prepared me for all of the auditions I will be doing after. It’s a really good place. You can figure out where you want to be and what you want to do in the arts if that’s what you are interested in.”
The Michigan Thespian Festival is the largest scholarship competition in the country, giving out $15 million in scholarships.
“I was able to qualify in competition for scholarships so I had something to look forward to,” Kerrigan added.
Kerrigan and Serena Chiappelli both received scholarships for musical theatre at Rochester College and University. Both also received call backs for Studio School in Los Angeles, Cali., formerly known as Relativity School.
“They have a really cool program,” Kerrigan added.
Chiappelli also received a scholarship for Ohio Northern University and was runner up for a scholarship at Saginaw Valley State University.
Kerrigan plans to go into musical theater and film and Chiappelli plans to study musical theater in college with the goal to perform on Broadway.
Stewart is heading into the medical field with the goal to be a doctor in physical therapy.
“My dream is to travel with a Broadway company and be their doctor and do their physical therapy,” she said.
“Overall I think the people in Clarkston in high school in particular, don’t know how big of an opportunity this really is,” Kerrigan said. “If you really want to go into theatre, musical theatre, stage manager, costume design, make up anything, you should definitely consider coming here because they will teach you a lot of things and you can get scholarships. You can do a lot of things. There is so much opportunity. You just never know what you are going to see there. You never know who you are going to meet.”
Join the drama club as they present the musical “Mary Poppins” on Feb. 15-18 at Clarkston High School.