Free State High School Theatre brings back gold from festival, could see one more encore

photo by: Elvyn Jones/Journal-World File Photo

In this Journal-World file photo from Dec. 5, 2018, Colton Smith, at right, as bad-guy Harry Roat Jr., prepares to cut open a doll containing heroin that accidentally came into the possession of the blind Susy, played by Brynn Kelly, in a scene from Free State High School's fall play, "Wait Until Dark."

The Free State High School Theatre Department brought back some shiny hardware from the Kansas Thespian Festival in Wichita. Now, the students and faculty face a difficult decision of whether to take their show on the road once again.

As the Journal-World reported in December, the school’s fall play, “Wait Until Dark,” was chosen as one of three productions from high schools statewide to be performed at the festival, which took place over the past weekend.

In addition to individual students’ awards, the Free State Thespians received the Gold Honor Troupe award, which extends far beyond the stage. To qualify, troupes must complete three community service projects, three fundraisers and three productions throughout the year, said Ericka Waller, Free State instructor and director of the production.

photo by: Ericka Waller/Contributed Photo

The Free State High School Theatre Department brought back several awards from the Kansas Thespians Festival in Wichita, held the weekend of Jan. 5, 2019.

On top of that, “Wait Until Dark” was once again selected to be performed for a larger audience, Waller said — the International Thespian Festival, to take place in June in Lincoln, Neb. But the trip would be a large burden, in terms of money and time, for her and the involved students.

“It is just so new and completely unexpected that we are just honored right now to have been selected,” she said.

Plus, in the play’s cast alone, there are five graduating seniors, Waller said, so they haven’t yet decided whether they’ll go.

“This is just a huge feather in our cap for Free State Theatre, and we’re just really proud to represent our school,” she said.

photo by: Contributed Photo

Ericka Waller

Other awards included: Jenna Gaston, superior gold medalist, musical theater solo; Helena All, superior gold medalist, costume design; and Colton Smith, playwright contest winner. Smith, a senior, also held a lead role in “Wait Until Dark,” as knife-wielding felon Harry Roat Jr.

Free State’s next production will be its Black Box Theatre Festival, coming up in May and featuring shows written by students.

“So it’s completely student-produced and just a great opportunity for our kids to act and direct in works that are presented by their peers,” Waller said.

photo by: Ericka Waller/Contributed Photo

In this photo from Sept. 26, 2018, blind character Susy Hendrix (played by Brynn Kelly, Free State High School senior) and her preteen neighbor, Gloria (played by Madison Goeser, junior), devise a plan to outwit three criminals who lie, steal, and threaten physical harm when they attempt to take advantage of Susy, in Free State’s production of “Wait Until Dark.”

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