Following a blockbuster performance by Oak Grove High School Theatre at the recent Mississippi Theatre Association State Festival in Meridian – in which the team placed first among the top eight high schools in the state – the theater group will now head to the Southeastern Theatre Conference annual convention to represent Mississippi for the 14th time.
Oak Grove will present a group of 38 students at the conference, which will be held March 9-13 in Memphis, Tennessee.
“We’re super excited – the kids are super excited, I’m super excited,” Oak Grove theater director Suzanne Allmon said. “It’s wonderful to be able to still do live theater in all the chaos of COVID, and to be able to do it and be rewarded was just a great opportunity for these kids.”
The Southeastern Theatre Conference is a nationwide organization designed to help connect theater practitioners of all experience levels with training and resources. The upcoming convention will feature the top 20 schools from the Southeast region in competition. Two schools from each state in the region – which is comprised of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia – are chosen to take part in the competition.
“This is the largest theater festival in the United States that we’ll be competing at,” Allmon said. “We’ll have shows on Thursday and Friday, and they will have three professional judges that will adjudicate them.
“Then they will choose the top two – they will choose a runner-up and a Best Production.”
The Southeastern Theatre Conference convention, which is celebrating its 70th year this year, will cost $26,000 for the school to attend. To help meet those funds, officials will hold fundraisers and donations can be made online at www.oakgrovehightheatre.com and on the Oak Grove High School Theatre Facebook page.
“It’s going to be the best of the best that are going to be there performing,” Allmon said. “I always just want my kids to do the very best production that they can, so they can walk off the stage with no regrets and are proud of their work.
“As long as we do that, that’s all we can ask. So we hope to give another great performance, and we hope the audience loves it.”
At the Mississippi Theatre Association State Festival, Oak Grove High School Theatre presented “The Old Man and the Old Moon” by PigPen Theatre Company. That story tells the epic tale of an old man who must abandon his duties of filling up the moon with liquid light to cross the seas in search of his missing wife.
For their performance at the state festival, the students won multiple awards in the individual events competition and best small ensemble, including mask design. In addition, the team was awarded two all-star casts: Brooklin Gall and Paige Stephens in Theatre for Youth.
Nick Singleterry and Farrah Wild won All Star Cast, Alex Yang won Best Actor, Oak Grove was awarded Overall Technical Excellence, and Best Production
“I was just extremely proud of the kids,” Allmon said. “They did a wonderful production, and they really worked as a team to make sure that they could do their very best.
“It was really a beautiful performance. Any time we can bring home something for our district and for our school, we feel very proud to be able to do that. We were just super excited that we were honored with the awards that we were given.”
In addition to the team’s awards, Allman was honored for Outstanding Contribution to Theater for her work on the Mississippi Theatre Association board over her last 20 years of service.
“I’m super honored,” Allmon said. “I love helping people and people in theater, and I’m always willing to do whatever needs to be done for the organization to further the support of theater in Mississippi.
“It was a big surprise to me when this was announced, and I was very honored and shocked and in awe that they had chosen to honor me in that way. It was a great moment.”