APA’s Patriot Players earn several awards
Cast and crew of Arendell Parrott Academy’s Patriot Players production of ‘Almost, Maine,’ left to right, Rachel Alexander-Lee, Clay Robinson, Macie Yao, Kyle Turik, Sydney Herlong, faculty director Amy Calhoun, student assistant director Ridge Lewis and Tyler Lane. Photo by Vicki Kennedy / Arendell Parrott Academy
On Nov. 2-3, Arendell Parrott Academy took its theatrical talent on the road for the N.C. Theater Conference in Fayetteville, and the Patriot Players walked away with a variety of awards. Their production of the romantic comedy Almost, Maine received a Superior rating from judges and was named a “distinguished play.”
Junior Macie Yao won an Outstanding Achievement in Acting Award, while theater teacher Amy Calhoun was honored for Excellence in Directing. An ensemble of four student actors and five technical crew members also won the Festival Spirit Award.
Competing against eight other schools, the Patriot Players had just 45 minutes to set up the stage, perform their play and strike the set. Precise timing, smoothly-choreographed scene changes and teamwork were essential to the troupe’s success. Rehearsing since the third week of September, they debuted the production in front of a school audience on Oct. 29.
“This play lets us work with a small number of cast members — just four actors portray eight characters,“ Calhoun said. “The minimalistic approach is a good challenge for students,” she added.
Her student actors agreed. Kyle Turik of Kinston said his biggest challenge came in a scene where he had to take off layers and layers of ski clothes.
“That, and learning to stage kiss,” he said. “At first, we couldn’t stop laughing.”
Rachel Alexander-Lee said her biggest challenge was psyching herself up to be angry at a fictional boyfriend. Fellow actress Macie Yao had to hide her surprise when the audience laughed at a line she didn’t realize would be funny.
Senior Ridge Lewis of Greenville is the most experienced of the actors, having appeared not only in school plays but also in several Magnolia Arts Center productions in Greenville.
He also served as assistant director, and helped Calhoun choreograph a mock combat scene.
“Ridge has been to an intensive workshop on stage fighting, from swords to fists, so he was a great asset for us,” Calhoun said.
Parrott’s production of Almost, Maine advances to state competition at Greensboro College on Thursday.