By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The cast of the Crockett High School production of ‘Dearly Departed’ will be competing in the 2018 UIL One-Act Play regional finals.

CHS drama instructor Janet Walker, who directs the play alongside Donna Prejean and Pamela Randall, spoke to The Messenger and praised the effort put in by the students participating in the cast and crew.

“A lot of people think that when we go to one level (of competition), we just kind of wait and do the show again in the next week or two,” Walker said. “But we go straight into rehearsal, and we take the notes from the directors and the critiques, and we improve on it. And every show gets better and better.”

During the Area II, Region III, AAA competition held on the evening of Friday, March 30 at a performing arts high school located in downtown Houston, Walker said, the students representing Crockett “were absolutely on fire.

“It was definitely a Good Friday for us,” Walker said. “They were on fire.”

The four students composing the production’s crew took home the All-Star Crew Award, which Walker described as “quite the honor.

“That pretty much means that you have a well-oiled machine,” she explained. “They (judges) watch you from the time you do your hour rehearsal; from the time the kids are coming in the theater – setting up, programming the lights and the sound and marking the set – they watch everything we do, including running the show.

“We were very excited, because we certainly don’t have a light system here in Crockett that’s equivalent to what we get when we get to these big theaters,” Walker continued. “My kids just really stepped it up, and they were phenomenal.”

Faith White, who portrayed Marguerite, was awarded Best Actress.

“(That) is an incredible award,” Walker said. “You pull a Best Actress at Area – it’s phenomenal, because you’re already with the crème de la crème of the state of Texas.”

An All-Star Cast award was received by Katie Bradshaw for her portrayal of Suzanne. Uriel Hernandez secured an Honorable Mention All-Star Cast win for his role of Ray-Bud. An Outstanding Tech Award was presented to crew member Jalen Senegal.

“Between District, Bi-District and Area, all of my seniors have gotten an individual award,” Walker divulged. “That’s really cool; that’s never happened before.

“That’s pretty amazing, because not only is it a great experience and a memory that these kids will keep forever, they also have something to show for it other than just a group medal,” she pointed out. “I’m really, really proud of them.”

Each of the students involved in the production, Walker said, have devoted a great deal of time to preparing for competition.

“I see these kids more than their parents do during one-act play season,” she said.

Walker explained that the show was cast in December, and the actors selected were given the task of learning their lines throughout the Christmas break. Rehearsals began shortly after the beginning of January.

“When the sports (teams) finish their practice, they go home,” Walker said. “My kids have to still go learn lines and do character studies and do different assignments that I give them or that they’ve gotten from a director or a critique that we’ve gotten. It doesn’t stop when they get home. They still have to work.”

In addition to preparing to adequately portray his or her character, each student participating in the play must maintain an “impressive” grade-point average, Walker said.

Walker also praised the parents of the students involved in the play.

“We have a lot of patient parents and a lot of wonderful drama parents,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without the drama parents.”

This will be the first year for CHS to be represented in a one-act play competition at the regional level.

“We’ve never even been to regionals,” Walker said. “I’ve been to area a good many times, but I’ve never made it to regionals, which is the last performance before state – they’re called state finals.”

Six high schools throughout four regions will be competing.

“We’ve beat out a lot of kids,” Walker pointed out. “When they get to area, they’ve already beat out 70 percent of the state of Texas. They should be very proud.

“When they announced our name (as finalists), we about flipped,” she chuckled.

The chance to compete in the regional finals, Walker said, is one she and the students are “honored” to have been given.

“We are just honored to be going,” she said. “By the time you get to that level, these shows are phenomenal, as well as ours is.

“It’s an incredible show; a very funny show,” she said of the production. “It’s a different style of comedy, and these kids have really come up to the plate.”

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.