Steamboat high school drama students qualify for international competition
December 20, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School drama troupe received an unprecedented honor this month when three of its students were asked to perform their group-acting piece at the closing ceremony of the Colorado Thespian State Competition on Dec. 8 at Denver's famous Bellco Theatre. It’s the first time a Steamboat group was offered this opportunity.
"We usually perform in front of 300 people in this theater," said Julian Bowman, an 18-year-old senior, speaking about the high school’s auditorium. "We got to perform in front of 5,000 people, which is half our population in Steamboat."
Bowman joined classmates Trace Walker and Charles Leech in performing "Tarantino Variation," a scene featuring a "Mexican standoff," a situation in which three armed men are engaged in a stalemate with guns pointed at each other. The quick-moving, quick-witted scene got the attention of judges, just like theater teacher Jamie Oberhansly knew it would.
"When the three of them told me they wanted to do a scene together, I knew exactly which one I wanted them to do," Oberhansly said. "It's about them being simpatico and playing off each other. Timing was critically important, and they nailed it."
At a glance
Steamboat Springs High School drama troupe members who qualified at state to compete at the International Thespian Festival in June:
Maddie Lee — solo music
Ethan Pyles — solo music
Anna Dean — solo music
Allie Famulare — solo music
Julian Bowman and Charles Leech — duet acting
Ethan Pyles and Bella Eckburg — duet music
Sam Luster — solo music
Julian Bowman, Charles Leech and Trace Walker — group acting
Delaney Johnston, Allie Famulare, Gabby Barrientos, Anna Dean, Morgan Perlman and Maddie Lee — group musical
The trio was chosen to audition for the "main stage" show after winning a superior rating at the state competition, which hosts thousands of students.
Walker had never before competed at state.
"It was just really nerve wracking, performing in front of these insanely talented kids," Walker said.
In fact, Steamboat was up against not only much bigger schools, but schools that specialize in drama and music.
"We don't have the same exposure as the Denver School of Arts," Bowman explained.
"That's what they do," added Walker. "These other five or six groups that were on the main stage all specialized in theater."
The size of the school doesn't matter to Oberhansly, who is often ambitious in her choices of musicals like “Sweeney Todd” or plays like “Noises Off” that push the high school's technical prowess.
Ambition must serve her thespians well, because Steamboat will be sending 10 members of its drama troupe to the International Thespian Festival this summer in Lincoln, Nebraska, to compete against students from the U.S. and abroad.
Walker and Bowman bragged on their fellow thespians who they believe will do well at the International Festival.
"Ethan Pyle and Bella Eckburg are extremely talented singers," Walker said.
"And there are six girls performing ‘Cellblock Tango’ from ‘Chicago’," Bowman said. "They are so much better than when they started, and now, they're going to Nationals with superior (ratings)."
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.