Three Dalton High School students made the trip to Northside High School in Warner Robbins on Sept. 15 to audition for the Opening Number of the Georgia Thespians Conference. The trip was well worth it as they all got the nod to travel to Columbus, GA, on Feb. 7-9, 2013, to attend the conference.
Earning the honors were Katelynn Brock; a senior; Ben Southerland, a junior; and Emma Phinney, a junior.
Dalton drama teacher Wes Phinney said it is a huge accomplishment to have three representatives from one school. Dalton has had a representative at the conference before, but never three in the same year.
“The schools with stronger theater programs will send more kids,” Mr. Phinney said. He noted that Calhoun High School is also sending three students to the conference.
The three students were up by 4 a.m. on Saturday and traveled with Southerland’s parents to be at the school by 9 a.m.
The day was split into two parts—dancing and singing. After a quick warm-up, the group was split. Brock, Southerland and Phinney participated in the dance auditions first, and they were the first of their whole group to dance.
“It didn’t go well for us,” Southerland said.
Said Phinney of the judge watching them dance: “When we started dancing, his face just drained of all happiness.”
Since they had to perform first, the group didn’t have as much time to practice, and other people from different groups got to watch and observe. But as the voice portion came around, it was obvious why the Dalton students were there.
Brock performed “I Gotcha” from Liza with a Z.
“It was terrifying,” said Brock, who also played guitar during her performance.
Phinney said she was scared because she sang the most performed song of the day—“Astonishing” from Little Women. “They heard it a million times,” Phinney said of her song.
Southerland performed “Good Old Glory Type Days” from Glory Days. “Some people didn’t know the first part,” Southerland said of the song. “Thank goodness I did.”
During callbacks, some performers were asked to prepare a performance for another song. Southerland had to sing “King of New York” and Phinney had to take part in “Free at Last.”
“You were put on the spot,” Southerland said. “You had prepared one song, and then you had to go learn another song and come back.”
Of the 113 performers who came to the auditions, 50 made it to the Open Number for conference—38 of those were from the singing portion and 12 were dancers.
So what exactly is a “thespian”?
“It’s the Greek term for actor,” Phinney said. “It’s a very dedicated actor.”
And dedicated they will have to be—leading up to the rehearsals and the conference, all three performers will have to polish their performances. They will have to perfect songs and memorize lyrics and learn dances to certain songs.
On Nov. 16 the three will head back to Warner Robbins for rehearsal followed by another rehearsal in January before the conference comes in February.
“It’s nice for them to see kids like themselves (at the conference),” Mr. Phinney said. “They have the same interests and they’re supportive of each other. They don’t feel out of place there.”
The three will continue practicing after school with Mr. Phinney to prepare for the conference which will feature both group and individual performances, workshops and chances to audition for colleges and scholarship money.
“It’s a lot of work,” Mr. Phinney said. “They’re all just dead when they come back.”
By Lindsey Derrick, Dalton Public Schools Contributor