Douglas High School's theater program racked up excellent and superior rankings at the Northern Nevada Regional Thespian competition, and will be doing fundraising to send them on to state.
"Even though the International Thespian Society has been sponsoring the thespian festival for years and years, Douglas County didn't participate," said Amy Sando, head of the theater department at DHS, "I learned about it in a conversation with a drama teacher from Reno."
In 2011, the school participated for the first time and sent two students on to the state level of competition; the following year, eight students qualified.
This year, 24 students have qualified for the state competition in March.
"While the state qualifiers were being announced, and as DHS kept being called, I went from excited to speechless to... I teared up," Sando said. "As a teacher, I was so proud. In spite of the little that we have, we have dedicated and talented students."
Many of the pieces the students entered were from plays they have performed over the past few years, including the one-act comedy "Epic Fail" and the student-written musical "There's Something in the Water."
This year Douglas had an entry in the competition's tech aspect for the first time, and Chyanne Fischer received the top superior score for her stage management of "There's Something in the Water."
"I didn't even really have feelings. I was so excited," said Fischer. "I didn't hear my name called for excellent, and then with the superiors, and it was one of those moments when I was thinking 'I'm only a junior and there's always next year' when they announced top superior. The entire Douglas group knew it was me and it was really exciting."
Douglas also had the top superior entries for one-act plays and group scenes.
The play, "Painted Rain," directed by Michael Demaree and starring Jordan Sullivan, Hayleigh Green, and Katie Pacheco, first had to qualify for regionals at the One-Act Festival held at Douglas High Jan 18-19.
"Painted Rain" is a drama about two orphan girls and their social worker that focuses on the difference between real and artificial love.
The biggest challenge for the actors and director was the transition between the small, outdated stage at Douglas to the professional theater housed at Damonte Ranch High School.
"It was really hard," Demaree said. "Our light booth is directly stage right of the stage. Even in a blackout, you can see the actors on stage. At regionals, with a professional booth, a blackout is a blackout. It's difficult when you aren't used to not seeing the actors at all. And then going from our light board to a digital light board... that was a challenge."
On their way home from the competition, the students celebrated their success by singing showtunes and classic rock and pop songs like "Don't Stop Believing."
Their troupe leader had a little more on her mind.
"As soon as the competition was over, my mind went immediately to cost. Our costs are over $5,000. Because we have such a small facility we can't raise all of it through productions," said Sando.
The competition takes place in Vegas, so the troupe is looking at hotel fees, travel fees, and registration fees, plus individual event fees, which adds up to about $400 per person.
The students plan to raise the money to compete through ticket presales, selling advertising space, and donations.
There will be a State Showcase, featuring all the acts that will be competing March 23, further details will be released at a later date.
Those interested in donating towards the student's competition or to the silent auction can e-mail Amy Sando at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Businesses can also support DHS Drama by purchasing ad space in the performance programs from theater students or by contacting Amy Sando.
The following students are qualifiers for the state competition: Nick Angelo, Carson Costa, Michael Demaree, Emelie Wurster, Katie Pacheco, Jordan Sullivan, Hayleigh Green, Michaela Brewer, Kate Niday, Layne Smith, Katelin Teigen, Jocelyn Contreras, Nicole Bennett, Courtney Kratz, Kyle Ruscigno, Tamrah Torres, Chyanne Fischer, Kelsey Endter, Katrina Olson, Taylor Bailey, Sean Bridges, Austin Sunderland, Alina Harwood, and Cayli McGuire.