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LOHS teens to go to state Youth Arts Fest

January 23, 2013 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Staff Writer

Lake Orion High School Thespians received some top accolades from the Michigan Thespian Festival.

Seniors Savannah Gonsoulin, Hannah Rains, and Alex Rogala, along with junior Claire McIntyre and sophomore Kara Calvert, all received a Superior rating at the Thespian Festival, the highest rank that can be awarded.

The top rank qualified Gonsoulin, Rains, and McIntyre to perform at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival later this year.

Several hundred thespians attended the festival in December. They competed in various categories such as musical solo or short film.

Rains and McIntyre teamed up for a musical duet, Gonsoulin performed a musical theater solo and Rogala submitted a short film. Culvert took part in the costume construction category. She was required to choose an existing theater piece and create a costume for one of the characters within certain budget limitations, explaining her creation to a panel of judges in the costuming industry.

She also received a superior rating in costume design, in which a musical and three characters are provided and participants have to draw up a design and provide material swatches.

While all five students received superior ratings, Rogala and Culvert were not eligible to be nominated to attend the Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF) because they were not in performance categories.

"These are the best of the best," Lowe said. "They've been invited to come there."

MYAF is run by the Michigan Youth Arts organization, which is an umbrella group acting as an advocate to the state government for arts organizations including the Michigan Band Association, the Michigan Choir Association, the Michigan International Thespians branch, and others.

The MYAF runs for three days in May when students get the chance to perform again and also take part in various workshops. Past workshops have included subjects such as stage management, how to apply makeup, how to get an agent, and what working in a professional theater is like.

"This nice thing is that while they're performing, the choir kids might be off and their kids might watch our performances, or we might watch their performances," Lowe said. "Arts will be on display the whole time, so you can wander in and out."

The road to MYAF is a tricky one. Thespian Festival allows schools to only send two acts per category, and a superior rating does not guarantee a slot at MYAF. If any of their acts receive superiors, teacher supervisors are only allowed to select three acts from performance categories to recommend. From the recommendation pool, Michigan Youth Arts selects what it considers the best performances.

Between now and May, the Lake Orion Thespians are preparing for the spring musical, Wonderful Town, which runs April 24 - 27.

In the meantime, though, they can continue to learn from their experiences at Thespian Festival and, later on, MYAF.

"Probably one of the biggest things they walk away with is the feeling that they are talented and competent," Lowe said. "I think that the kids who have superiors really come away with the feeling that, 'I worked hard to get what I've gotten, and I've been successful.'"

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