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.
“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.
“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.
“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:
By Bruce Norris
Director: Roberta Emerson
Montverde Academy, Troupe 3977
By Carey Crim
Director: J. Jason Daunter
Claremont High School, Troupe 2129
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
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
SHE KILLS MONSTERS VIRTUAL REALMS
By Qui Nguyen
Director: Danielle Miller
Hoboken High School, Troupe 7268
Hoboken, New Jersey
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
7 ADDITIONAL MAIN-STAGE MARATHON SHOWS RUNNING ON DEMAND AT ITF 2021
By Stephen Gregg
Director: David Tate Hastings
Olathe South High School, Troupe 5006
BREATHING THROUGH COVID
By the Company of Breathing Through Covid
Directors: Andrea Lee Roney & Debra Buckner
North Penn High School, Troupe 5464
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
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
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