By: Nathan Maxwell
Oak Grove theatre plans to take audiences to the Land of the Rising Sun, otherwise known as Japan, as it presents In A Grove: Three Japanese Ghost Stories by Eric Coble. The show takes place in the Edo time period in the village of Kogisu. The first of the stories tells of Keizuke and his encounter with Yukionna, the snow woman. The second tells of a monk named Uta and an evil warlord named Kozo and how Uta avenges Kozo’s victims. The final story tells of a wanderer named Hyroku and her trip inside a haunted temple, which houses a shape-shifting demon called the Azukitogi. The three stories are strung together by the memories of a priest named Obasan.
Suzanne Allmon, Oak Grove theatre director, says that every year is a different show, but this one is especially different because it has both creepy and humorous elements and features some things that the department hasn’t used in shows previously, including black lights. Sophomore Evan Woods said, “It might be scary, but it’s fun!”
Allmon always picks shows that will interest her and her students. This show is sure to thrill audience members of all ages with its suspense, action, comedy, and twists. Allmon said, “[We have] some tricks up our sleeve to make stage magic happen.”
Tickets are on sale now for In A Grove. Tickets for the November 10 show at Oak Grove Primary are $10 and will include coffee and desserts. Tickets for the 15th and 29th shows will be at the OGHS Black Box will be $5 for students and $7 for adults.
Oak Grove theatre is working hard in rehearsals to prepare the show for Drama Fest, a regional theatre competition, on December 7-8 at William Carey as they compete against over a dozen other schools.
By: Taylor Parsons
The OGHS Theatre department will be hosting an Improvisational Invitational on October 20 at the Lower/Upper Auditorium. The festivities will begin at 2:00 p.m., and admission will be $5.
“Improvisation is really making things up right off the top of your head,” said director, Mrs. Suzanne Allmon. Actors have to use improvisation when a line is forgotten, misplaced, or skipped altogether, so it’s an important skill to have. Schools from all over Mississippi have been invited to compete in this “Whose line is it anyway?” inspired invitational. Schools will have improv teams that will have to think on their feet in order to take home the first place trophy. Three professional judges will choose the winners based on certain criteria, including the humor of the scenes each team creates.
Each team will randomly draw a topic that Allmon and members of I.T.S. (International Thespian Society) have decided. Those topics will be the bases of (hopefully) hilarious, unrehearsed scenes.
“We are all really excited to host this event,” said I.T.S. member Baxter Rose Walters. “If nothing else, it will be a hilarious day in general. Improv is great when done correctly.” Some actors, on the other hand, have winning in mind. “I’m looking forward to spending a day with all of my fellow actors,” I.T.S. member Lauren English, said. “But at the same time, I would love to win. It’d be the icing on the cake.” Whether the drama department outwits the competition or not, the invitational promises hours of entertainment.
After winning Best in State at the Mississippi Theatre Association competition for their performance of The Jungalbook in November, the Drama family traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, March 7-11 to the Southeastern Theatre Conference to compete against other high school drama groups in the southeastern United States. The Oak Grove Theatre Department has been to SETC six times in the past few years, so this year was a continuation of their winning tradition.
In order to prepare for SETC, the drama students participated in a number of fundraisers, including several encore performances of The Jungalbook, and rehearsed the show to get it perfect for the competition. All of their months of hard work paid off at SETC. The show won the Golden Wrench Award, given to the most professional group at the conference, and the Judges’ Choice Award for outstanding makeup, costumes, and body art. Xavier Martin, senior, made All-Star Cast at SETC for his exceptional performance, and eight of Oak Grove’s students received a combined total of $220,000 in scholarships for their acting and creative designs. “I am grateful I got to perform with such an awesome group of talented students, and even though we didn’t bring home the title, we did bring home a better knowledge of teamwork and became closer as we progressed through the season. Because at the end of the day, we are one blood!” said Martin.
“I am extremely proud of our cast and crew,” said Suzanne Allmon, director. “It is very hard to work for eight months on a show like this. I’m proud of their performance as well as their attitude.” The Jungalbook’s achievements at SETC seem like an excellent way to finish out Oak Grove Theatre’s successful competition season and set the bar high for next year’s show.
By: Will Pipes
Sherakhan (Stephanie Weiss) convinces Grey (Nathan Maxwell) to see things her way in the Drama Department’s production of The Jungal Book. / Submitted Photo
In previous years, the Oak Grove drama department has put on several award winning shows, and this year is no different. This year’s show, “Jungal Book,” is a darker version of the Disney cartoon that came out in 1994. When asked about the choice for the show, director Suzanne Allmon replied, “I chose Jungal Book because it’s an ensemble piece but also has individual characters. I have a very strong senior class this year, so I wanted them all to have a chance to showcase their own roles without being just part of an ensemble.” The show stars senior Xavier Martin as naive Mowgli, trying to learn the ways of the jungle and staying out of the way of Sherakhan the Tiger, played by Stephanie Weiss, who would like nothing more than a bite of Mowgli. Along the way he is taught and protected by reluctant mother Bagheera the Panther (Jessica Palmer), wolf pack leader Akela the Wolf (Heather Boutwell), and teacher of jungle law Baloo the Bear (Andrew Adams). The enticing Kaa the Python (Taylor Nace), and the cackling Chil the Vulture (Lauren English) appear as well. Juniors Rachel Hummel and Haley Laird seem incredibly hyperactive as they shake and laugh onstage as the Hyenas. Allison Walters and Nathan Maxwell round out the rest of Boutwell’s wolf pack as Grab and Grey. Sophomores Will Thaggard, Keirston Murphy, and Baxter Rose Walters, along with senior Rachel Jackson make up a screeching family of monkeys, and the Lord of the Jungle, Hathi the Elephant, is voiced by juniors Logan McCarty and Miranda Rester. In designing the costumes for the show, Mrs. Allmon said research was key. “Since the show is based in India, we did a lot of research in Indian culture, which would be why we have the henna tattoos. We also took the Indian culture to create the costumes; each color matches up with the characteristics of the animals, so we tried to put a lot of the culture into the costumes instead of just making them look like animals.” This past weekend the drama department competed at the regional Dramafest competition at USM, in hopes that they would be one of three schools chosen to advance to the statewide Mississippi Theatre Association competition. Not only were they called to advance to the next level of competition, the cast and crew also picked up several additional awards, such as Technical Achievement for having the best overall tech crew, an All-Star Cast for Xavier Martin’s portrayal of Mowgli, and Best Physicality to Will Thaggard, Keirston Murphy, Baxter Rose Walters, and Rachel Jackson for their performances as the monkeys. Technical Director, junior Addison Arroyo, fondly remarked on the weekend as a whole: “It’s definitely cool to go to Dramafest because it’s fun to compare and see what your peers can do and to prove what you can do. And of course, there’s nothing like being called for MTA.” So far the drama team has been very successful and hopefully will continue to be as they bring a part of the Jungal to the stage.
By: Will Bedwell
This past January Oak Grove’s Drama Department showcased its talented members at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia.
SETC is a recruitment process which allows students in the Southeastern United States to try out for numerous college drama programs. Suzanne Allmon, Oak Grove’s drama director of 15 years, takes any students to the conference who wish to attend. This year she took juniors Amelia Passer and Taylor Nace as well as seniors Chris Permenter and Kaz Zumbro.
Students chose to either try out in the field of tech or acting. Passer, Permenter, and Zumbro exhibited their talents in the technical field. They each were given space on a table where they could organize set and costume ideas that they would explain to recruiters from different colleges. Nace, however, chose to perform in the field of acting. She had to perform a one-minute monologue and a 30-second song, both in only one attempt.
“I was beyond nervous knowing I was auditioning for so many colleges. It was sickening, but the exhilaration it brought was awesome,” Nace said.
All four students came back extremely successful from the conference with a multitude of offers from many colleges. Some of the scholarships awarded were even in excess of $20,000. Allmon was pleased with their performances stating, “I’m very proud of them. Almost always the kids we take to SETC do exceptionally well, and the experience plus the scholarships they receive are great.” In order to witness the extreme stage talent here at Oak Grove, one can attend both the Junior Class Show and the Spring Show.
The Junior Class Show was held on March 31st with another show upcoming April 7th at 7:00 p.m. They will be performing the comedy “Questionable” by Alan Haehnel. The show, which involves all the juniors in the department, is essentially an acted-out standardized test with the audience as the test takers and is sure to provide countless laughs.
The Spring Show, to be performed at 7:00 p.m. on April 28th and 29th, is likewise a comedy entitled “A Night of Durang.” The show was written by Christopher Durang who has written many comedic pieces for the likes of both Carol Burnett and Robin Williams. The two shows can be seen by purchasing tickets from Allmon. Adult tickets cost $7 and students $5.
If these shows prove enticing to any students, auditions for the award winning Oak Grove Drama Department will be held April 18th and 21st after school. To audition one must perform a chosen monologue by Allmon, which are currently available outside the drama room door.