BHS Thespians Receive Top Honors at Regional Festival; Large Cast and Crew Advance to States

By Julie Perine on February 12, 2018 via

Participation in the Regional Thespian Festival provides some very positive perks.
“It’s always a good opportunity for kids who are like-minded with the arts to get together, spend time together, encourage one another and learn from one another,” said Albani St. Martin Brown, who co-leads Bridgeport High School Thespian Troupe #7549. “They get to build relationships and build skills that last a lifetime.”
Bringing home awards that advance the troupe to state competition is icing on the cake.
Saturday, BHS Thespian Troupe #7549 returned from the Regional Thespian Festival with a handful of accolades. The troupe’s one-act play, “Bury the Dead,” received first place and BHS senior Megan Rinker was named best supporting actress. Bridgeport’s Demi DePiazza and Callia Byard earned a spot in the All Festival Cast and Derek Hess received a first-place award for his short film.
The 45-minute “Bury the Dead,” in which 30-plus cast and crew members are involved, will be performed at the West Virginia State Thespian Festival, March 22-24 in Parkersburg.
“I am so very proud of all of them. They had the best show and they all earned this win,” said ‘Bury the Dead’ Director Trina Byard. “I can’t wait for the state festival because I am so excited to get to show more people this incredible piece of art we created.”
Held at Fairmont Senior High School, this year’s regional event was competitive. Plays receiving first through fourth places advance to states. Robert C. Byrd, North Marion and Buckhannon-Upshur received second, third and fourth places, respectively.
St. Martin Brown said judging is subjective, but she believes BHS is certainly deserving of the first-place honor which has been earned for the past three regional festivals.
“Something we have consistently done during the last few years is feature a relatively large cast,” she said. “Trina and Jared (St. Martin Brown) try to find shows that have an ensemble feel – not one or two lead characters, but everyone having a large part.”
Perfecting a play that has so many roles does take much effort, skill and practice, she said.
“Trina always brings in Lydia Mong as an acting coach. What one doesn’t see, the other does. These two women are phenomenal,” St. Martin Brown said. “Another thing is Trina always brings in other eyes – other directors and friends who have acted for a long time. That gives the kids different critiques and enhances the learning experience.”
Before taking the one-act play to Saturday’s regional festival, the troupe performed the show at BHS Friday evening.
“There were probably 200 people there,” St. Martin Brown said. “It was fantastic.”
There was no fee to see the play, but donations were collected for the Thespian troupe and  will help with expenses involved in traveling to the state festival. At the state festival, troupe members will also have opportunity to compete in individual events like monologues, solos and duets.
The cast and crew of “Bury the Dead” are:
First General- Colin MacFarland
Captain- Brett Tustin
Third General- Trevor Wolfe
First Soldier- Ethan Willis  
Private Driscoll- Callia Byard
Private Morgan- Corey Stephens
Private Levy- Mohamed Ben Fredj
Private Webster- Andrew White
Private Schelling- Derek Hess
Private Dean- Wesley Cotter
Katherine Driscoll- Heather Bokey
Julia Blake- Jordan Kennedy-Rea
Joan Burke- Erica Cottrill
Martha Webster- Megan Rinker
Bess Schelling- Michaela Hutcheson
Mrs. Dean- Demi DiPiazza
Priest- Dalton Colton
Reporter- Madyia McCullough
Editor- Kady Hayes
Radio reporter- Vincent Pinti
Newsboy- Caroline Fulks
Voices:  Adelina Hill, Catherine Gray, Rylee Chamberlin, Samuel Cale
Director: Trina Byard
Acting Mentor: Lydia Mong
Producer: Jared St. Martin Brown
Technical Director/Designer: Jared St. Martin Brown
Production Designers: Trina Byard & Jared St. Martin Brown
Assistant Director: Meagan Hutcheson
Production Stage Manager: Haley Wilson
Vocal and Music Director: Erica Cottrill
Sound: Ashlynn Paascoe
Lighting: Zayne Byard,
Spots: Bailey King, Jordan Jones
Costume Designers: Maddie Labenne and Bethany Queen
Makeup Design: Izzy Hawkinberry
Crew: Jenna Keefover, Izzy Hawkinberry,
Bethany Queen, Maddie Labenne

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