Troupe 6405 earned four “Top Honors” awards, two “Superior” awards, and numerous “Excellent” awards
By Tori Kitchens
On Dec. 4, the Upper School’s theater department traveled to Lake Minneola High School to compete in the District 12 Thespian Festival and returned home with great success. This festival occurred for the first time since 2019, so the Eagles were very excited to return to competition. “It has been so long since I have been around a large group of people all doing what they love to do, and I felt all day that everyone was just as excited as me to be back in person for live theater events,” said Lower School Music Teacher and accompanist Erin Cushing.
After months of preparation, Oak Hall’s Thespians, Troupe 6405, brought 201 events to the festival: five monologues, five solo musical pieces, four duet acting pieces, two duet musical pieces, two ensemble acting pieces, one small group musical piece, one student choreography, and one student directed. “What surprised me the most was that our acts uniquely represented us with our humor and silliness, and I think other troupes were slightly more somber than usual, so it was nice to see that we were just able to sit back and enjoy it,” noted Upper School Theater Co-Director Dr. Dominique Clance.
The Eagles competed from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. After the final event, the troupe learned that it received a Top Honor: the highest score in their event room. Senior Jennifer Berthy and sophomore Katelyn Berthy got “Top Honors for Duet Musical”, “Single Man Drought” from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
The Berthy sisters, however, weren’t the only “Top Honors” winners from OHS. Senior Peyton Nembhard won “Top Honors for Student Choreography” to a piece from the musical Kinky Boots. This was Oak Hall’s first entry in this category since the troupe’s inception. Seniors Julia Curtis and Kaylee Rowe, and sophomore Annika Quanbeck received “Top Honors Ensemble Acting” for their piece titled, “Barbies.” Finally, the troupe’s small group musical, “Haus of Holbein” from the musical Six, received Top Honors. The actors in this piece were Katelyn Berthy, Quanbeck, Rowe, Nembhard, junior Christina Sarantos, and freshman Lilia AitSahlia. “I am so proud of them! We haven’t had any Top Honors/Critic’s Choice in several years, and their hard work paid off,” said Upper School Theater Director, Brooke Molitor.
Winning “Top Honors” gives the actors an opportunity to perform their pieces at the event’s closing ceremony. Oak Hall won the most top scores out of any troupe. “Not one, not two, not three, but four Top Honors!” Molitor emphasized. “This district has some of the most competitive schools and as another director emailed me, our students “totally dominated” the festival.” This was the best that Oak Hall’s troupe had done at the district level since 2016.
In addition to the four “Top Honors” recipients, there were two more “Superior” scores, which is the highest score level. Sarantos and fellow junior Bailey Thorp received superior on their duet musical, “The Actuary Song” from I Love You Because, and Jennifer Berthy and Rowe received superior for their duet acting title “Stepsisters”. The remaining 14 events received the next best score, “Excellent”.
Troupe 6405 will travel to Tampa in March to compete at the State Thespian Festival. “This is the largest Thespian Festival in the country, and it is a very busy few days filled with shows, masterclasses, workshops, and the competition,” Molitor explained. “Students will start rehearsing again after Winter Break and implementing the constructive feedback from the judges.”