Steamboat Springs High School drama students qualify for national competition
Steamboat Springs — When drama teacher Jamie Oberhansly first arrived at Steamboat Springs High School five years ago, the Drama Troupe had nine students attend the Colorado Thespian Conference, known as ThesCon.
This year, 42 students from Steamboat attended ThesCon, and of that group, four qualified for national competition in Lincoln, Nebraska. In previous years, no more than one student from Steamboat has qualified and never before have students qualified in the performance category.
Students who will compete at nationals include: junior Mayana Gibbs and sophomore Dominic McAuliffe, performing the duet “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun;” sophomore Hannah Heil, performing “Ireland” from “Legally Blonde;” and senior Mollie Heil, who presented a portfolio for stage management from “Legally Blonde.”
“It’s stiff competition,” said Oberhansly, regarding qualification for nationals, “There are schools twice the size of [the high school] with fewer people going this year.”
Out of the approximately 5,000 students who attend ThesCon annually, only about 1,600 compete for a chance to qualify for nationals. To qualify, students each receive five scores from two judges with the highest score being “superior” and lowest being “fair.”
All four Steamboat national qualifiers received overall scores of “superior” on their performances and portfolios.
In 2013, over $20,000 in scholarship money and grants were given to students who competed at nationals, and talent scouts from colleges and performing arts programs across the country attend the competition.
For Heil, nationals are a chance to create a lasting impression on the colleges she hopes to attend, all of which are sending scouts to Lincoln. Nationals also offer five workshops a day for students and teachers.
“From 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. it’s all learning, doing and experiencing theatre,” Oberhansly said.
With half of Steamboat’s qualifiers being underclassmen, the experience of competing in a national contest will also strengthen the foundation of the Drama Troupe, which currently involves about 55 students.
Oberhansly said she is overwhelmed with the incredible growth and success of the program. She recalls having 12 people on the audition list for the production her first year.
“It’s surreal, it’s completely surreal,” Oberhansly said. “I care so much about these kids. They work so hard and put so much into this…for some kids, this is everything, and I’m so glad theatre can give them that.”
Heil plans on pursuing stage management in college.
“I can’t imagine high school without the theatre experience,” she said, “My senior quote is ‘I found the theatre and found my home,’ and it’s true, this is my home.”
The students from Steamboat who are headed to nationals are seeking sponsors to help cover the $700-per-person cost. Anyone interested in donating can contact Oberhansly at 773-750-2874.
Annie Martin is a Steamboat Springs High School senior who is interning at Steamboat Today and Steamboat Living this semester.
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