Bettendorf’s fall production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was the opening show performed at the State Thespian Festival on Nov. 13.
The cast performed in a 1600 seat performing arts center at the University of Northern Iowa.
The audience of nearly 1,000 students from across the state brought lots of energy on and off the stage.
“The audience response to the show was insane. Sometimes they were laughing so hard before we finished the lines. It was amazing,” actor Molly Seybert said.
“The audience is more into the shows, and they all love every moment. Lots of people talked to me throughout the weekend and asked me to say lines in the character’s voice. It was all really cool,” Grant Mougin said.
Students at the festival were able to participate in different individual event categories including Acting-Monologue, Acting-Duet/Group Scene, Musical Theatre-Solo, Musical Theatre-Duet/Group, Short Film, Team Improvisation, Costume Construction, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, Sound Design, Stage Management and Theatre Marketing.
Five individual events received first place awards; Nate Walczyk (lighting design), Amanda Matthews (set design), Ashley Swearengen (stage management); Lindsey Sheldon, Alex Packard and Ali Girsch (group musical theatre) and Lily Broyles and Amanda Matthews (quick change during Tech Challenge). Seybert was awarded a second place award in solo musical theatre. Senior Sarah Rasing was the recipient of the Technical Theatre Scholarship.
“If you win an event that’s great, but if you don’t win, you get feedback on what you can improve on and what your weak points are,” Mougin said.
“Technical events take a lot of planning, and you have to sell your idea to show why it’s the best. I had to bring in a scale model of a set I designed and several binders into my event,” Amanda Matthews said.
“It’s really fun to perform and get feedback from new people who don’t always hear you sing,” Seybert said.
Ali Girsch was also selected to be a State Thespian Officer for the next year.
According to the Iowa Thespians website, becoming a State Thespian Officer gives students the opportunity to organize their state’s festival, participate in and lead leadership workshops at the state and national level and promote the work of the International Thespian Society and their state’s thespian society.
“I would encourage people to join drama because the festival is one of the best experiences you can have,” Matthews said.
“The festival has the best atmosphere, and everyone there wants to have a good time. For it being my first time, it was a great experience,” Mougin said.
Six students qualified for the International Thespian Festival including Girsh, Packard, Sheldon, Swearengen, Seybert and Walczyk. Internationals takes place in June at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This will give Bettendorf’s best of the best an opportunity to perform in front of the best thespians in the country.