For the third time in four years, Marshall High School won the AAA State Theatre Festival after performing a Russian comedy, “Journey of the Fifth Horse,” at the Charlottesville Performing Arts Center on Monday.
Marshall won with a sweep, winning first-place votes from all four judges.
Daniel Crabtree from Oakton High School won the top acting award for his role as the husband in “The Problem.” Kristin Prieur, who played his wife, also won one of eight acting awards.
Three students from Marshall, Louisa Krause, Peter Van Valkenburgh, and David Winkler, won acting awards. The combined wins by the five students from the Northern District claimed five of the eight acting awards offered at the state theater festival.
After losing several days of rehearsal time to recent snow storms, 18 students in the cast of “The Journey of the Fifth Horse,” and an eight-person technical crew, went to school on Sunday to cram in one final practice. It lasted five hours.
Between the regional and state competition, “We probably only rehearsed four times in a three-week period,” said Mark Krikstan, Marshall’s theater teacher.
The competition, originally scheduled for March 3, was postponed until Monday because of yet another snow storm, scrambling schedules for the students and judges.
Eight Virginia high schools, the winners of four regional competitions, each performed during the day. Oakton High’s two-person ensemble had won the Northern Region competition with “The Problem.”
“Americans have difficulty finding humor in Russian comedy,” said Donna Coghill, one of four judges who placed Marshall first. “But this one succeeds.”
She complimented the “impeccable” Russian accents of the Marshall actors, coached by parent and voice coach, Jane Kalbfeld.
“It is rare to see such a wonderfully consistent cast,” Coghill said.
“There were no weak links here.”
Judge Jeff Wittman said the play was “a very strong group effort to show the pathos and comedy of these characters. Well-directed!” he said.
During a travel stop for dinner almost immediately after the performance, Krikstan was already drawing plans for the school’s next play, the musical “Side Show,” on the back of an envelope.
Marshall also won the state theater title in 2000 with “Shock-Headed Peter” and in 2001, for “Samoubvisto.”