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Lake Orion wins big at Thespian Festival



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January 11, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Special Writer for The Review

This year's Thespian Festival at Saginaw Valley State University was a chance to compete for some, a learning experience for many and, for 29 members of Lake Orion High School's Thespian troupe, an enormous success.

Thespian Festival is an annual gathering of high schools who are members of the International Thespians organization. Thespian groups from around Michigan gathered at the state university for two days of "constant go go go" activity, said Lake Orion Thespian teacher sponsor Leann Lowe.

Students chose to compete in a range of categories, from duet musical to monologue to short film contests, against Thespians from all over the state. While students are not given first, second or third place, their performances are ranked from "superior" on down. Several Lake Orion Thespians received superior and excellent ratings.

"I'm so proud of all the kids," Lowe said. "They get their own scenes together, they find their own partners and they find their own songs—they work it out themselves."

Thespians not competing or those in-between events could participate in various workshops. All of this was held on the university's campus, so during downtime students could get explore the college—and let the school get to know them. Hosting universities annually give away several thousands of dollars in scholarships to students involved in the festival's competitions.

At the close of the two days of Thespian Festival was an awards ceremony, presided over by Erik Hart of Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts. This year, the ceremony was more interesting than usual for Lake Orion's troupe .

After all other awards had been handed out, Hart kept the Thespians a bit longer to tell them about, as he put it, someone in their midst with a great deal of talent—Lake Orion's own Jonathan D'Ambrosio. Hart said D'Ambrosio would one day be better than director Steven Spielberg.

Hart created a special award for D'Ambrosio and gave him a check for $1,000. Hart said that he has made four promises in his life, the fourth being to D'Ambrosio. He promised the Lake Orion student he will do everything in his power to help give D'Ambrosio his start in directing.

Lowe is taking D'Ambrosio and a few other students to the National Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb., where they will face a bigger group of competitors to compete against and get noticed.

"From a Thespian student standpoint, this is the one big thing we all look forward to at the start of the year," D'Ambrosio said. "It's the one place where you can showcase your talent and be an individual."

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