State Thespian Festival nominates fall play

Ben Crump

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Gracie Hammond

Senior Bret Knepper portrays Manfredo in “Fall of the House of Usher” preformed on October 20, 21 and 22.

For the first time in 16 years, the drama department has been selected to perform their fall musical “The Fall of the House of Usher” at the state Kansas Thespian Festival at the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center on Jan. 4-6.

Drama teacher Michael Parker said the selection is a prestigious honor, and speaks to the hard effort put forth by the cast.

“The Kansas chapter is one of the largest in the U.S. and it brings together all theater students from across the state…It shows that you’re one of the top shows in all of the state,” Parker said.

Senior Nathan Garber, along with senior Tanner DeGrado, are two of the leads and are excited about the experience.

“I’m pretty excited about it. It’s pretty exciting that I get to go to state my senior year and it’ll be a good start to the second half of the year,” Garber said.

The Kansas Thespian Festival is a historic event with the upcoming occasion being the 46th annual festival. The cast and crew will experience a different environment when they perform again in January.

“You’re in a much bigger venue, [including] the backstage. Your pacing, your distance to the dressing room is different and they don’t get to practice that,” drama teacher Michael Parker said.

The Kansas Thespian Festival features plays from four schools across the state and a different group of students from their regular audience. Garber said The Fall of the House of Usher is also different from plays performed in years past in its overall tone and theme.

“It’s darker than other shows we’ve done in the past. It’s not a musical which is different from what we did last year. Last year we did musicals and this is just a straight show,” Garber said.

Although the show is unique and the audience is different, their original October performance gives the drama department reason for confidence.

“I thought it went pretty well, there’s some things on the technical side that could have been a bit better, but overall it was a pretty good performance.” Garber said.