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CHS Drama Represents Well at Virtual Thespian Festival

CHS Drama Represents Well at Virtual Thespian Festival

Clarkston News Staff Writer
(Above: Jordan Livingston performs "Pretty Funny")

Clarkston High School Drama Club Troupe 803 attended the Michigan Thespian Festival during the first weekend of December for a virtual experience.

"My experience for this year's festival was not at all what I was expecting," shared Halee Tisler, this year's president of the Drama Club. "Honestly, I didn't have high hopes for this year since we had to go on the virtual format. However, it was so much fun. We were given a lot of opportunities we would have never gotten if we were still in person. For example, we were able to hear from many special guests who are heavily involved in broadway over a Zoom call while they were in their homes in New York."

Fourteen students and two adults, Amy Seaman and Jennifer Ward, attended workshops with theatre and Broadway professionals from all over the country.

Sophia Catella added her experience was incredible for her first Michigan Thespian Festival being new to the Drama Club.

Clarkston High School Drama Club meets on Zoom. From left, top row, Jordan Livingston, Amy Seaman, Quinton Muhleck, Sophia Catella; middle row, Jennifer Ward, HaleeTisler, Jacqueline Shatz, Paige Colby; bottom row, Jillian Livingston, Ellise Dowd, Susanna Metz and Ash Ritter. Not pictured, Alannis Barber, Chloe Chiappelli, Brady Stewart, and Leisl Netherland. Photo provided

"I was a little bummed that we all couldn't go in person, but it was amazing," she said. "I had kind of high expectations because all of my friends had told me what an incredible experience it was and this year the festival surpassed even my highest expectations."

Catella added it was a lot easier than she expected. She participated in two different workshops in which she sang a song.

"It was a lot less nerve-racking to be singing in my room on camera than it would have been to get in front of people in person and sing," she said. "It was also really nice to be able to go from one workshop to the next by just clicking a Zoom link."

Tisler agreed it was easy.

"We were given a schedule for different workshops and meetings and we were able to log in whenever we wanted," she said. "It was very flexible if I ever needed a break. The Thespys were also a little easier this year because we could take multiple takes of our video to send in if we didn't like the first take, as opposed to doing it live."

Tisler said there were a lot of options for workshops. She participated in a broadway dance workshop, acting, and getting into character workshop, a stage manager workshop, an accents workshop, and a vocal technique workshop.

"There are so many opportunities for all techies, dancers, singers, and actors," she said.

Catella participated in five workshops including a contemporary costuming class where she learned about all the things that you can add to costumes to make them unique.

"I had never considered being involved in costuming before, but the workshop was interesting," she said. "The second workshop I took was 'A Day Of Auditioning In NYC' which was super informative and helpful. Prior to this workshop, I wasn't sure what kinds of things I would need to have ready for auditions and how they usually go, but I feel better prepared now."

Another workshop she took was Embodying Character. Her third workshop was a vocal workshop ran by Katie Travis, who was Christine in "The Phantom of the Opera."

"I got to sing in that workshop because I had emailed a video of myself singing a song for a different workshop run by Broadway's Lauren Molina," she said. "The gentleman I emailed the video to asked me if I would be willing to sing in Katie Travis's workshop, so I signed up for it right away. I sang a song for her, and she gave me feedback on how to improve. It was also super helpful."

She added Molina's musical theater workshop was helpful as well as Molina chose a few videos of students singing to give them feedback on their performance.

"I was super surprised when she played my video, but I loved the feedback she gave," Catella said. "It helped me reconsider how I perform musical theater songs."

All of the students who competed for Thespys received Excellent and Superior ratings.

Jillian Livingston, Musical Theatre Solo; and Ash Ritter, Costume Design, received Rating of Excellent.

Paige Colby, Musical Theatre Solo; Jordan Livingston, Musical Theatre Solo; Susanna Metz, Musical Theatre Solo; Liesly Netherland, Musical Theatre Solo; and Brady Stewart, Musical Theatre Solo, received Rating of Superior.

Of the $15,101,380 of scholarships offered, students from CHS Troupe 803 received $658,000 of the offers. Colby, Stewart, Chloe Chiappelli and Quinton Muhleck received offers from two to nine universities and colleges.

"I could not be prouder of the group of thespians that competed in scholarships and Thespys this year. We are a small but mighty troupe," Tisler said. "I also had a great experience by receiving all of the love and support from my troupe and seeing everyone cheer each other on as our Thespy and Scholarship results came in. I competed for the first time in a Thespy event. I did the Stage Management event and earned a Superior."

Tisler is a senior and plans to major in engineering when she goes to college.

"I am hoping to stay involved in the arts in any way that I can," she said.

Catella hopes to be able to audition for high school productions in 2021. But mostly, she hopes that theater everywhere is back in 2021 for everyone.

"I have never gone a year without doing a musical for the past five years, so this year has been kind of weird as I'm sure it has been for everyone whose extracurriculars and hobbies have been canceled this year," she said. "My hope is theater can start up again in high schools everywhere so people can keep doing what they love. I also hope theater starts up again on Broadway because many actors, stage managers, technical crew workers, ushers, and everyone involved in theater are out of a job right now."

Rating of Excellent

  • Jillian Livingston, Musical Theatre Solo
  • Ash Ritter, Costume Design

Rating of Superior

  • Paige Colby, Musical Theatre Solo
  • Jordan Livingston, Musical Theatre Solo (watch her performance)
  • Susanna Metz, Musical Theatre Solo
  • Liesl Netherland, Musical Theatre Solo (watch her performance)
  • Brady Stewart, Musical Theatre Solo

Scholarship Offers

Chloe Chiappelli (Watch her performance)

  • Heidelberg University, $78,000
  • Hope College, $12,000
  • Northern Michigan, $6000
  • Ohio Northern University, $16,000
  • Siena Heights University, $64,000

Paige Colby

  • Northern Michigan, $4000
  • Rochester University, $47,500

Brady Stewart (Watch his performance)

  • Eastern Michigan, $12,000
  • Heidelberg University, $80,000
  • Hope College, $12,000
  • Niagara University, $80,000
  • Ohio Northern University, $16,000
  • Rochester University, $50,000
  • Siena Heights, $64,000
  • U of Findlay, $7000
  • Northern Michigan, $4000

Quinton Muhleck

  • Eastern Michigan, $8000
  • Heidelberg University, $78,000
  • Northern Michigan, $4000
  • Ohio Northern University, $16,000

Clarkston High School, Troupe 803 Grand Total: $658,500

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.

Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at Visit The Clarkston News online at

Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Director of Marketing and Community Relations (248) 623-5460.

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