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Students from Russellville High School compete in District 3 for the Trumbauer Festival to qualify for the state competition at Troy University in December. Students included (front) Macey Vandiver, Madeline Cooper, Kaitlyn Balding, (middle) Grace McDermitt, Hannah Mills, Maggie Franks, (back) Avery Guinn, Amelia Camacho and Nicholas McSpadden.

RHS students advance to state theatre competition

Nine students from Russellville High School traveled to Cullman High School Nov. 2 to compete in the District 3 Trumbauer Festival for the chance to go to state in December.

The Trumbauer Festival, sponsored by the Alabama Conference of Theatre, gives students the opportunity to compete in a variety of categories, from musical theatre to monologues. The nine RHS students competed in 11 individual events, nine of which received superior ratings and seven of which received bids to state competition.

“I’m so proud of them because their confidence levels have just shot up,” said theatre teacher Patrice Smith. “If you can stand up in front of a room of complete strangers and sing or do a monologue for three minutes, you can do anything.”

Avery Guinn competed in solo musical dramatic and solo acting dramatic, in both of which he received a superior rating and bid to state competition. Grace McDermitt also competed in two events, solo acting comedic and solo musical comedic, and she received a bid to state in solo acting comedic and superior ratings in both events.

Maggie Franks and Madeline Cooper both received superior ratings and bids to state in solo musical comedic, and Amelia Camacho and Nicholas McSpadden received superior ratings and bids to state in solo musical dramatic.

Kaitlyn Balding and Macey Vandiver both competed in solo musical dramatic and received excellent ratings. Hannah Mills competed in solo acting dramatic and received a superior rating.

Russellville had not attended a drama competition in years, so it was each student’s first experience. Each competed in the novice category and had roughly six weeks to decide on a piece for competition and rehearse.

Smith said three students performed monologues, and the rest performed musical theater.

Students chose songs from a range of musicals, from fan favorites like “The Little Mermaid” to newer shows like “Legally Blonde – The Musical.”

“We had to find the right thing for everyone since it isn’t a general prescription,” Smith said. “We had to make sure everything was in the right key and fit the time length and fit all of these different rules.”

The students rehearsed both on their own and with each other, and they performed in front of their 80-student choral class to prepare for competition.

“That was scarier than the actual competition because you’re performing it in front of kids that you have to see every day,” Franks said.

Mills said although she originally did not know much about theatre, competing allowed her to discover a new avenue of expression.

“This competition really just allowed me to explore this part of myself that I didn’t really know I had, and now I know that I have a passion for competitive acting,” Mills said. “I just love the environment, and it was a great opportunity. I’m just happy I was there for that opportunity because if I hadn’t, then there would still be this part of myself that I didn’t know I had.”

Now that district competition is over, students will spend the next four weeks taking critiques from competition and working to perfect their pieces. State competition will be at Troy University Dec. 5-7.