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Raise Your Glass: South Eugene Theatre Scores Another ITF Performance

KillerParty03.jpg

It’s uncommon for a high school theatre production to be selected for the annual International Thespian Festival (ITF), let alone twice.  But that’s exactly what’s happened to South Eugene Theatre.

In 2019, the quirky musical BE MORE CHILL took to the main stage in Nebraska. South Eugene Theatre’s Thespian Troupe 750 sang and danced before several thousand peers, as director Pat Avery signaled his retirement. 

His successor is John Monteverde, who started last fall.

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Credit SET Facebook Page
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Members of the cast - as well as musical director Chris Dobson and SET director John Monteverde - rehearse ahead of March's premiere of A KILLER PARTY.

“We’re more prepared going into this year, to do a lot more virtual work,” Monteverde told KLCC.  

Monteverde’s not only had to fill some big shoes as South Eugene Theatre’s new director, he’s also had to stage productions during the pandemic.  This includes a show that opened in March, A KILLER PARTY: A Murder Mystery Musical.

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Credit John Nollendorfs / International Thespian Festival
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International Thespian Festival
SET's performance of BE MORE CHILL at the ITF, 2019.

“The whole rehearsal process was very, very different from how you do an ordinary musical, with recording all of the music first, and then really rehearsing and performing a scene, rehearsing and performing another scene, it was really much more like a film sketch," explained Monteverde. 

"It was exactly like making a movie, and that’s in fact what we did, was a 90-minute iPhone movie.” 

The Educational Theatre Association picked KILLER PARTY with twelve other high school shows across the U.S. to perform.  In a release, the association writes: "...the festival celebrates student achievement in the performing arts. The highly coveted invitation to the main stage is a huge honor for International Thespian Society students: High-caliber productions from across the country are screened each year, and only the best receives this honor."  

Given COVID-19 restrictions, it’ll be a virtual performance.

South Eugene High School senior Adriana Ripley has now been in two productions chosen for the International Thespian Festival (BE MORE CHILL, A KILLER PARTY). She recalled her reaction to the news.

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Credit Screen capture from SET production.
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SEHS actors Madigan Rear and Oshen Parris-Austin in a scene from A KILLER PARTY.

“Shock and delight.  I didn’t know that we had even been entered to be considered or adjudicated at the national level.  And so when Mr. Monteverde came in, all of us were floored.” 

And junior Meesha Gerharter, who began on-stage work this year, said it’s great seeing South Eugene Theatre’s legacy of excellence continue under Monteverde’s direction, with many new students.

“Some of us, this is our very first show with SET," said Gerharter.  "So that we gotten it to go so far is really, really, impressive because none of us were expecting it at all.” 

The festival runs June 22nd through the 25th.  A KILLER PARTY will be online through South Eugene Theatre’s website for several months. 

Another Oregon Thespian Troupe, 4630 of Ashland, was also picked by festival organizers for its production of CLUE: The Stay at Home Comedy.

The 13 chosen productions for this year's ITF are:

CLYBOURNE PARK

By Bruce Norris

Director: Roberta Emerson

Montverde Academy, Troupe 3977

Montverde, Florida

             

DISTANCE LEARNING

By Carey Crim

Director: J. Jason Daunter

Claremont High School, Troupe 2129

Claremont, California

 

A KILLER PARTY: A MURDER MYSTERY MUSICAL

Music by Jason Howard, Lyrics by Nathan Tysen, Book by Rachel Exler & Kait Kerrigan

Director: John Monteverde

South Eugene Theatre, Troupe 750

Eugene, Oregon

 

CLUE, THE STAY AT HOME COMEDY (HS VERSION)

Adapted from the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn
Additional Materials by Hunter Foster, Eric Price & Sandy Rustin
Adapted from the Paramount Pictures film written by Jonathan Lynn and the board game from Hasbro, Inc.

Director: Jonathan Luke Stevens

Ashland High School, Troupe 4630

Ashland, Oregon

 

SHE KILLS MONSTERS VIRTUAL REALMS

By Qui Nguyen 

Director: Danielle Miller

Hoboken High School, Troupe 7268

Hoboken, New Jersey

 

Disney's NEWSIES

Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Jack Feldman, Book by Harvey Fierstein
Based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White

Director: Bob Henrichs

Lincoln Southwest High School, Troupe 6547

Lincoln, Nebraska

 

7 ADDITIONAL MAIN-STAGE MARATHON SHOWS RUNNING ON DEMAND AT ITF 2021 

GHOSTLIGHT

By Stephen Gregg  

Director: David Tate Hastings

Olathe South High School, Troupe 5006

Olathe, Kansas

BREATHING THROUGH COVID
By the Company of Breathing Through Covid
Directors: Andrea Lee Roney & Debra Buckner
North Penn High School, Troupe 5464
Lansdale, Pennsylvania

THE TEMPEST
By William Shakespeare
Director: Clark Taylor
Mount Vernon High School, Troupe 7702
Sandy Springs, Georgia 

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
By Oscar Wilde
Director: Pamela Hurt
Prestonwood Christian Academy, Troupe 6605
Plano, Texas

THE HOPE PROJECT
By Daniel K. Isaac
Director: WT McRae
The Berkeley Carroll School, Troupe 3946
Brooklyn, New York

WOMEN OF SPOON RIVER
From the anthology by Edgar Lee Masters
Directors: Jill Campbell with Kailani Stroup (student)
State College Area High School, Troupe 5029
State College, Pennsylvania

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Director: Katherine Rochon
New Jersey All-State Thespians
New Jersey

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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