The Bigger Stage

Theatre Advances to Bi-District, Performs at Heller Awards


Photo by Danielle Walker Photography

The cast of “Something Rotten” perform “Will Power” at the Heller Awards on Apr. 14. As a stage manager, senior Emma Frith was back stage and felt emotional watching the cast perform. “It was so fun getting that experience and taking the cast back stage and watching the performance at the Heller Awards, and them having fun made me have fun. I was doing my job, like my part of the show.”

Rachana Kommineni, Reporter

Theater has had many accomplishments over the year, including getting to perform at the Heller Awards. For “Something Rotten,” the department was nominated for Best Production, Best Musical Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Choreography, Aidan Johnson as Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Cyrus Van Sickle as Best Actor in a Supporting Role. They won first place for their UIL One Act Play “Suite Surrender,” and advanced to Bi-District. Other nominations included Ben McDanald for Best Performer, James Magruder for All-Star Cast, Connor Yasi for All-Star Crew and Seth Loudenslager for Honorable Mention All-Star Cast. 

“On top of that, we had placed first in the 5A District competition, which was the best feeling in the world,” senior Katie Smith said. “I was so proud of everyone involved in the show and all of their hard work and dedication and the time that we put into our show to get us that far.”

Smith said they were initially doubtful of their chances at success, due to what they had heard about other comedic plays and how they did at UIL.

“Even with all our worries, we were extremely proud, excited and satisfied with how we did and it was such an exciting moment to hear them yell our school name for the advancing schools,” Smith said. “I have loved every moment of every UIL One Act Play I have ever done because of the close friendship and the bond I feel with the theatre community.” 

As a stage manager for both UIL and “Something Rotten,” senior Emma Frith coordinates events and dates, details of rehearsals, and keeps everything organized.

“I was pushed into tech when I realized I was never going to act,” Frith said. “It’s something I never looked back from, and I kept learning and growing. It helped me stay organized and helped me grow to my fullest potential as a person.” 

According to Frith, she wanted to give up at times, but being a stage manager is worth it. She said that it taught her to work with different people and people with conflicting personalities.

“I never did those shows because I wanted to be nominated for awards, but rather because I wanted to have fun with friends,” Frith said. “Getting to do that and also being nominated for awards was the best feeling ever.” 

From playing Titus in “Curious Savage” to Lamar in “Barbequing Hamlet,” junior James Magruder has been in every single theatre production the school has held this year. In UIL this year, Magruder played Mr. Pippet, who is the secretary to Claudia McFadden, and in “Something Rotten,” he played Robbin and was part of the ensemble. He was recognized for his role as Robbin in “Something Rotten” and won an All-Star award for his performance.

“Me getting recognized for that award made me feel validated, and I felt seen, heard and where I needed to be,” Magruder said. “Instead of sprinting for dear life, I felt like I was running in a good spot.” 

For the Heller Awards, Magruder applied to four different scholarships and won two of them. He won the Texas Impact Arts and Zach PPC scholarship, which are summer intensives for musical theatre and were announced at the Heller Awards. 

“You have got to put yourself out there and go for everything,” Magruder said. “There is no guarantee that in an audition you will get the role, so you have to audition for as much as you can.”

Magruder transferred to the school this year, and he has experienced a big change coming from a school with no theatre class to a theatre class where he can perform to his full potential. 

“As a kid, I always liked playing pretend, and acting always appealed to me because I could professionally pretend,” Magruder said. “I was also singing before I could talk, so musical theatre is something that just comes naturally to me.”

According to Magruder, winning the scholarships, being awarded the All-Star award, and being able to perform in every show, has been the highlight of his year. 

“That night will probably go down as a core high school memory,” Magruder said. “Winning  the all-star award was so validating, and I can officially say I have done every show this year, which makes me feel so proud.”