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Watauga High School Pioneer Playmakers Win Regional Honors; Advance to the State Competition

Playmakers A Fable

Nov. 10, 2014. The Watauga High School Pioneer Playmakers have been recognized for their outstanding production of the one-act musical A Fable at the North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC) Regional High School Play Festival, receiving eight awards and being selected to advance to the State High School Play Festival at Greensboro College Nov. 20-21.

The Playmakers’ production is one of only 16 chosen for performance at the state level out of 128 productions that were presented in regional festivals across the state. Director Sarah Miller said that “we feel honored to be one of the 16 schools invited to share our work at the State Festival.”

The NCTC High School Play Festival is the largest high school theatre event in the Southeast, featuring more than 3,000 students from 91 schools performing this year’s 128 plays.

Miller praised the students’ work in the regional festival, commenting that “our Playmakers delivered the best performance we could have possibly asked of them. Additionally, they represented the high school and Watauga County Schools with grace, class, and a true spirit of ensemble support and positivity. They were wonderful theatre ambassadors for our district.”

The Playmakers’ production won a Superior rating for A Fable from the festival judges along with seven more specific awards. The additional honors received include Excellence in Theatre Arts for Puppetry for Zac Jones, Olivia Phillips, Jill Turner, and A.J. Ugenti; an Honorable Mention for Excellence in Lighting Design for Caleb Stoudt and Nick Bozeman; the Barbizon Outstanding Achievement in Technical Theatre Award for Props Design and Stage Crew for Rebekah “Gabby” Moody; Excellence in Acting awards for both A.J. Ugenti and Andy Li; Outstanding Achievement in Ensemble Acting for the cast and crew; and Excellence in Directing.

Miller and fellow WHS drama teacher Zach Walker alternate directing the Playmakers each year and this is Miller’s year in that role, but she credited Walker with being a key partner in the production of A Fable. “He helped design sets, assisted with rehearsals and directing, and supported the production in every way. Our work has been wonderfully collaborative, which is great for the directors and a strong example for our students.”

The Pioneer Playmakers and other groups taking part in the NCTC High School Play Festival Schools travel to the event with the complete set for their play and load the materials into a 10’x10’ area backstage. Each group is allotted just 45 minutes for all elements of the production, including setting up, the performance, and clearing the stage. After the performance, students join their peers in the audience to receive immediate feedback from professional actors and directors with Broadway and Hollywood credits.

In addition to praising her students and Walker, Miller made a point of expressing her appreciation for the support the Playmakers’ production received from people beyond the high school’s Drama Department. “We are especially grateful to student musician Jon Church, our colleague Tim Walker, and our accompanist Laurie Nicholson for being a part of this production. We also thank Becky Steele and Dustin Kerley for their collegiality in sharing students with us while we prepare for these festivals.”

The Playmakers will offer an encore performance of A Fable in Ross Auditorium at the high school at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 17. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door, with all proceeds used to help the Playmakers represent Watauga County Schools at the NCTC State Championship. “We’d love for a big crowd to enjoy this outstanding production by our students and support their work,” said Miller. “We’re very proud of their achievements and look forward to sharing A Fable again with a hometown audience.”

The Playmakers will also benefit from a fundraising day at Come Back Shack on Sunday, November 16. On that date, Come Back Shack will contribute a portion of sales to the Playmakers for each customer who tells their server they want to help the Playmakers raise money to go to the State Championship.