By Ted Brown
The number of one-act plays performed at the Iowa High School Speech Association’s large group state competition this year — 179. The number of groups then invited to perform at the all-state festival — eight. The number of one-acts named Critic’s Choice at the festival — one — Regina’s.
The Regina High School speech team sent three groups, two performing and one non-performing, to the large group all-state festival held at the Iowa State University Center in Ames on Feb. 18. The Iowa High School Speech Association serves 487 schools and more than 40,000 students, making the feat of going to All-State that much more amazing.
Performing in the category of one-act was Regina’s “Just a Stage He’s Going Through.” It was written by David Patrick Cook, directed by English teacher Clark McFerren and performed by seniors David Rudolph, Mary Harris, Gabrielle Iverson, Victoria Vaughn, Keely Lanaghan and Kathryn Lyon. Juniors Michael Clapp and Tyler Jensen rounded out the Critic’s Choice cast. “Being named Critic’s Choice feels like winning an Academy Award for best picture,” said head coach Cynthia Hames.
McFerren said, “Getting the Critic’s Choice award doesn’t really become a competition when you get there. It’s more like you’re there, you’re one of the best one-acts out of all the ones that started… so we had eight kids who are some of the best in the state, and then the critic there decided we were the best performance of the day.”
The Musical Theatre performance “Once On This Island,” a legend of a romance between a peasant girl and a city boy she saves from death, was performed by seniors Magan McCusker, Emily Duncan and Keely Lanaghan, junior Tyler Jensen and sophomore Gracie Larew. It was directed by music teacher Angela Howard.
The non-performing group was one of the three original competing improvisational groups consisting of senior Danny Pacha, junior Natalie Bonthius, sophomore Olivia Gillitzer and freshman Lauren Clapp. Pacha took the honor of walking across the stage to accept the medals Regina received for sending the groups to All-State.
Hames said, “It is a supreme honor to be invited to the All-State festival and I have been honored to send multiple groups to All-State each year.”
McFerren also said, “The kids who performed the one-act could not have done that one-act any better. I don’t know if anybody, anywhere, professional actors, could have done it any better. The credit goes, really, to nine people. That’s the eight kids in the play and Ms. Hames.”