Oak Grove Theatre to compete for state title-again

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Forty-five members of the Oak Grove High School Theatre will advance to the Mississippi Theatre Association State competition Jan. 11-14, 2018, at Mississippi University for Women in Columbia.

The Oak Grove students captured awards at South Mississippi Drama Festival last weekend in Hattiesburg at the University of Southern Mississippi, including Distinguished Play Award for Director Suzanne Allmon’s “A Twist of the Blade,” Best Set Design, Peer Choice Award, Best Actor – Liam McCarty and All Star Cast members – Josie Walters and Andrew O'Quinn.

More than 500 high school students and community theatre enthusiasts participate in the annual statewide theatre festival and convention. This unique festival brings theatres from around the state to perform their one-act productions, to learn more about theatre and how to improve theatre arts in the respective theatres.

High schools throughout the state have been rehearsing plays since September in hopes of placing in the regional competitions and then advancing to the State Festival. High schools that were awarded a Distinguished Play Award at the North and South regional festivals held in December advanced to the State Festival.

In addition to Oak Grove High School, the other schools advancing to the State Festival include Biloxi High School, Brandon High School, Ocean Springs High School, Picayune High School, Clinton High School, Jackson Preparatory School, Northwest Rankin High School, Oxford High School, and Power APAC.

High school productions will be held Friday, Jan. 12, at Mississippi University for Women – Whitfield Hall. The top two winners of the MTA Festival advance to the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Mobile, Alabama.

Additionally, Oak Grove High School will also participate in a Theatre for Youth Festival on Jan. 12 at Cook Elementary. The Theatre for Youth Festival is geared toward youth audiences and includes both community theatre and community college groups. In addition to Oak Grove, this year’s lineup includes Dramatic Harmonies, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – Perkinston, Ocean Springs High School, Power APAC and WINGS Performing Arts.

Schools from throughout the region will be bused in to see these productions. The Theatre for Youth Festival is open and free to the public.

Oak Grove High School Theatre has also won the honor for the fourth time to represent North America in Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of the 2018 American High School Theater Festival. AHSTF, which organizes the trip, creates a platform upon which the top high school theatre programs in North America become a part of the largest theatre festival in the world.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a unique and exciting event. Every year for three weeks, Scotland’s majestic capital is transformed into a magical, unpredictable and thrilling world. Edinburgh becomes the largest stage in the world. Donations to the OGHS trip to Scotland can be made at www.ahstf.org, "Gift of Performance" and put in Trip ID: 150407 to donate.

The Keynote Speaker for the conference will be Robert "RJ" Haddy, a special effects artist and airbrush dealer. He is best known as a contestant on season 2 of Syfy's reality television game show, Face Off, in which he was a finalist and fan favorite for the season. He returned as a veteran contestant on season 5 of Face Off, but was eliminated in episode 5.

General Admission tickets for the secondary and community theatre productions will be available at the door. Prices are $25 for all 15 productions; $15 for all productions on one day, and $5 for a block of plays.

MTA is sponsored in part by grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For more information, visit the MTA website at http://www.mta-online.org or contact Stacy Howell, Executive Director of the Mississippi Theatre Association, at (601) 201-9564 or execdir@mta-online.org.