Theatre students to host murder mystery dinner fundraiser

By BUSTER WOLFE,

With the upcoming Mississippi Theatre Association State competition at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus on Jan. 11-14, 2018, the Oak Grove Theatre students will be raising money Dec. 21 with "An Evening of Whodunit?" at the OGHS Multipurpose Room.

The performance by the students will feature an interactive murder mystery dinner theatre to help fundraise to cover the cost of our state competition. The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets will be $15 per person or $25 per couple.

Tickets may be purchased at Oak Grove High School or online at https://bpt.me/3200603

At the South State competition at the University of Southern Mississippi, Oak Grove walked away with awards with Distinguished Play, Best Set, Best Actor – Liam McCarty, All Star Cast – Josie Walters and Andrew O'Quinn and Peer Choice.

Oak Grove Theatre Director Suzanne Allmon said the state event will have some stiff competition.

“They will pick the top two shows out of 10 shows,” she said. “The top two shows will represent Mississippi at SETC in Mobile, Alabama in March. We will also be competing in Theatre for Youth Festival and Individual Events there.”

Allmon said she is extremely proud of this year’s performers.

“They have worked really hard on this show," she said. "Directing such a great group is a privilege. Having students work on an original piece is special for all of us. I'm so glad they are willing to jump in and make my work come to life."

Senior Josie Walters said performing at dramafest makes her feels unlike any emotion ever felt before.

“There aren't words to describe how it feels to come off of that stage and then at awards, having our name called to move on to state,” she said. “We have put blood, sweat and tears into this show, and we are extremely honored to represent Oak Grove at the state competition.”

Participating in her first dramafest is an amazing experience for freshman Katherine Fascnacht.

“Being able to share it with the wonderful group of people that I've become so close to has definitely been a significant highlight of my freshman year,” she said. “I am super excited about getting to perform this great show with them again at MTA."

While junior Andrew O'Quinn is in his third year in Oak Grove Theatre, his favorite part of the year is performing at the competitions.

“Getting to see so much amazing theatre and being surrounded by others who are just as in love with the art as we are is a truly wonderful experience,” he said. “Being able to move on to MTA and experience an even higher caliber of performance is so exciting. These competitions allow us to show our love and dedication to theatre to everyone around us and I couldn't love them more."

Forty-five members of the Oak Grove High School Theatre will advanced to the staste competition to perform Allmon’s “A Twist of the Blade.” More than 500 high school students and community theatre enthusiasts participate in the annual statewide theatre festival and convention.

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.

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.

Oak Grove High School Theatre is also raising funds after being selected 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.