Oak Grove High School and Tupelo Community Theatre Win Top Awards At MTA Festival
Starkville – Theatre students from Oak Grove High School and Tupelo Community Theatre won top honors in the high school division and community theatre divisions at the 2008 Mississippi Theatre Association Festival held in Hattiesburg January 10-13, 2008. Oak Grove claimed the Dominic J. Cunetto Award for Best Production for the 2nd year in a row with its production Tales of Trickery while Tupelo Community Theatre’s production of Doubt took home the Warren McDaniel Award for Best Production.
With their victory, Oak Grove High School (OGHS) and Tupelo Community Theatre’s (TCT) casts and crews will advance to the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) Festival being held in Chattanooga, TN in March. At SETC, the OGHS and TCT will compete against the best productions from nine other southern states.
Brandon High School’s production of Booby Trap was selected as runner-up in the secondary division and Starkville Community Theatre’s production of Art was selected as runner-up in the community theatre division. MJ Etua took home the Best Director in both the Secondary and the Community Theatre Divisions for her productions of He Calls Me By the Thunder (Louisville High School) and Art (Starkville Community Theatre).
More than 600 Mississippians participated in the Hattiesburg festival’s weekend of plays, musicals, youth productions, 10-minute plays, workshops and individual events held at the University of Southern Mississippi.
In the high school division, 20 high schools from across Mississippi participated in some aspect of the festival, which included the 10-Minute Play Festival, the Theatre for Youth Festival and the Individual Events Festival. Nine of these schools presented a play for competition.
During Friday’s opening ceremony, Dr. James Pfrehm’s play Letting It Ride was announced as the winner of the inaugural MTA Playwriting Competition. The one-act play was selected as the winning script after being reviewed by nine adjudicators throughout the state. In addition to a $500 award, Pfrehm’s production was produced as a reader’s theatre production during the festival.
David Orr, actor, filmmaker and founder/president of Possumtown Pictures Inc., spoke to attendees about his journey from growing up in Columbus, MS to graduating from Mississippi State University and working in the entertainment business in Florida and California. After several television acting opportunities including The Intervention (Think Productions), The Young and the Restless (NBC), In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders (NBC), Orr found a new love – filmmaking which led him to creating his own production company, Possumtown Pictures Inc., and moving to Brandon, MS to pursue producing films in Mississippi.
According to Tom Booth, MTA President “The festival was a huge success and provided an opportunity for theatre lovers to see a wide variety of plays produced by community theatres and high school theatres from all over the state.” He added “Mississippi theatres continue to produce high quality productions that stand up to others produced at SETC, a 10 state region.” Booth added “The MTA adjudicators were amazed by the high quality of the shows presented during the festival.”
“The festival could not have been possible without the countless volunteers from Just Over the Rainbow Theatre and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Theatre and Dance Department. We sincerely appreciate the work of festival coordinator Thomas Hardy (JORT) and technical director David Stellhorn (USM). ” added Cunetto.
The mission of MTA is to foster appreciation of and participation in children’s, college, community, high school, professional and university theatre in Mississippi by sponsoring festivals, workshops, and retreats; communicating with members and the public; acting as an advocate to government agencies, business, and the public; recognizing excellence in performance and production; and sanctioning representatives to regional festivals. See http://www.mta-online.org/ for more information about MTA or the Festival. MTA is sponsored in part by a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.
For a complete list of awards see: