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Thespian Troupe #342: A Year on the Move

Lee High School Drama has had an eventful year. With the school undergoing a major renovation, the theatre department has been displaced for much of the year. Being the resilient group that they are, however, the students have taken the entire thing in stride.

Since the auditorium was unavailable in the fall, Lee's International Thespian Troupe #362 and Theatre director Trena Weiss-Null put their collective heads together to make the fall season as great as ever, albeit a very different one. The Thespians put together a murder mystery in late summer and presented it as dinner-theatre the very first week of school. The audience participation event went over so well, they're considering making it an annual tradition.

Instead of the fall main stage show, Weiss-Null put together a cast of 20 performers who then work-shopped "Aesop's Fables" until director and cast came up with a viable 16-story script which they rehearsed and then toured to local elementary schools. Performances were also done in the Lee High cafeteria as well as an encore performance at Macy's in Springfield Mall. "It was a great experience for the kids," said Weiss-Null. "They were able to experience real touring as well as the phenomenal experience of creating their own script."

The Theatre Department moved into its new "digs" (a Black Box Theatre) at the beginning of the spring semester and although they also had regained access to the auditorium, the auditorium wasn't yet finished. The "Tech Booth," where the lights and sound boards are located, was out of commission all the way through their winter production of "Godspell" requiring some very interesting wiring configurations as the crews had to stretch cable almost everywhere. The main speakers in the auditorium were blown so rentals were hastily mounted. The actor playing Jesus was in a car accident and was unable to stand to rehearse until the day before the show. The renovation also proved difficult to cast and crew when concrete dust and chemical smells so filled the air during Saturday and evening rehearsals that it made it difficult to breathe, let alone sing. Still, cast and crew rose to the challenge and the show went very well.

2003-04 HAS been a real traveling year. Besides touring Aesop, 44 theatre students attended the three-day Virginia Theatre Association Conference in November where Liz Hèbert (who is costuming "The Rivals") received an award for costuming and Katie Dooley and Alex Valentin were honored with a performance award. Lee participated in the liberty District VHSL one-act festival where Jimmy Macartin received a best actor nomination. Forty Thespians and Thespian apprentices attended the Virginia Thespian Conference at Longwood University in late January. Marisa Vick's costume designs qualified her for Nationals while Darek Baczewski, Ellen Denker, Kelsey Mihaloew, Ellie Mosser, John O'Malley, and Elias Peters all were cast in next year's All-State production of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." In early March, IB student Siobhan Sullivan directed "Macbeth - A Comedy" which was presented at the Folger Shakespeare Festival garnering an originality award for the entire cast and individual recognition for John O'Malley and Alex Valentin. In late March 25 Lee Drama students participated in the Northern Virginia Theatre Festival where Siobhan Sullivan took first and Michelle Capuno took third in poster/program design, Ellie Mosser took second in costumes, The Rock Challenge Team took second in their event, and the Improv Team placed third, as well as many other students presenting outstanding work among the talented participants from 11 area High Schools. Along with NVTF, the Lee Improv Team has attended four other improv competitions this year and has brought home a trophy each time. They are one of the cleverest and funniest groups of teenagers in the area.