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Stafford High drama program 'on the verge' of greatness

Stafford High School drama students are “on the verge” of regional fame after taking first place at the Virginia High School Theatre Festival.

With the victory, the 24-student cast advances to the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Mobile, Ala., where it will put on its production of “On the Verge” by Eric Overmyer in a competition with 19 other teams from 10 different states.

Stafford High is hoping to repeat its showing from 2012, when it became the first Virginia school to win the Southeastern Conference title in 20 years, and the first from Stafford County to ever win.

“It is an honor, and, in our case, an instance of lightning striking twice,” said Michael D’Addario, theater director at Stafford High. “To come in first place in Virginia is a pretty big deal.”

According to D’Addario, the cast worked on the production over the summer and practiced every day after school and every other weekend to get ready for the competition.

The work paid off, as Stafford took home a total of eight individual and group honors from the Virginia conference Oct. 27. The awards include best play, best actor and actress, acting ensemble, stage management, all-star cast acting, costume and technical merit. It was the third year in a row that Stafford won the technical merit award.

“Every aspect of the production was recognized for the outstanding work that [the students] did,” said D’Addario.

“On the Verge” is not typically performed by high school students, nor is it particularly easy, D’Addario said.

It is a one-act play that follows the story of three Victorian women, Mary, Fanny and Alex, who embark on a journey to explore what they call “Terra Incognita,” the unknown earth. After traveling for a time, the women find “odd items in their bags and strange thoughts in their heads,” according to a Stafford drama department news release.

It soon becomes apparent that the trio is actually traveling through time from the Victorian period to today.

“It’s a play about three different women trying to discover themselves as they discover the world,” said D’Addario. “They each try to find their own destiny.”

Senior Erin Lottes won the award for Best Actress for her role as Fanny, the most conservative of the characters. Fanny is the most reluctant to accept the future, but eventually finds love there.

Erin has been in eight plays at Stafford and played lead roles before, but this was her first Best Actress title.

“It was really exciting because I always wanted it,” she said.

Southeastern Theatre Conference is an annual event held for more than 60 years. The high school theater competition includes the top two teams from 10 Southeastern states. Over 4,000 theater students, educators and professionals are expected to attend.

Because this year’s conference will be in Alabama, the trip will cost the Stafford students $23,000. The cast has set up multiple fundraisers, including multiple theater events.

In December, the group will perform a fresh take on the play “A Christmas Carol” and will have another showing of “On the Verge” on Jan. 4, at which donations are accepted in addition to the $5 admission. On Jan. 9, the Stafford drama department is working with other schools in the county to produce the “Back to the 80s Improv Show,” with all proceeds going toward travel costs.

D’Addario hopes to have every seat filled at the fundraisers. He said donations are also being accepted through mail and online at a website created for the cause.

“We don’t receive any school funds, so we need to raise that money on our own,” said D’Addario. “We really need our community to rally around us and come together to help raise those funds and to make sure these kids have the opportunity to go to Alabama and represent Stafford and Fredericksburg and Virginia.”

WANT TO HELP?

Donations for the Stafford High drama team’s trip to the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Mobile, Ala., can be sent by mail to:

Stafford High School Drama Boosters, Stafford High School, Attn: Michael D’Addario, 33 Stafford Indians Lane,

Fredericksburg, Va 22405, or made online at: payitsquare.com/collect-page/20653.

The boosters club is a nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible. For more information, contact D’Addario at 540/371-7200, ext. 1247.

Alison Thoet: 540/374-5444

athoet@freelancestar.com

 

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