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The City Journals

Hillcrest High makes headlines in the theatre world with strong finishes at Shakespeare festival, region

May 04, 2021 11:29AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest theatre competed its one-act play, “Incident at Vichy” at region, where the team took Sweepstakes and was expected to compete at state in April. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Abbott)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Hillcrest High thespians aren’t taking anything for granted after last spring’s closure of schools dampened their theatre season.

“It has inspired the kids to work hard; they are just as passionate,” Hillcrest High theatre director Josh Long said. “They do what they need to do with COVID to keep from having any outbreaks to disrupt their season.”

That attitude has resulted in students’ success, beginning last fall with the 44th annual 2020 high school Shakespeare competition that was held virtually this year instead of in Cedar City.

At the competition, Hillcrest’s Shakespearean team took first place in Sweepstakes as well as first place for the ensemble scene of “King Lear.” Students also placed first in tech Olympics.

Individual and small groups of students also placed well with Carson McFarland placing first and earning the Ray Jones college scholarship award in his monologue of “Cymbeline;” Max Abbot, Zach Harvey and Robyn Otteson placing second in duo/trio scene of “Othello;” Jacob Winegar earning third place in his monologue of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona;” and Porter Eldredge, Elizabeth Martin and Alden Parks being finalists in duo/trio scene of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

On the tech side, Jessica Wood earned first place in the tech portfolio and received a college scholarship award; Ian Abbot placed first in lighting and Fisher was first in sound.

Students also took to the stage in “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which was moved to February, allowing extra time to figure out how to best present the show and keep students and patrons safe during a pandemic.

“I’m so glad it went over well even if it did give us some additional work with COVID. I was really encouraged by the actions of parents who volunteered to help with sets and costumes as well as the students, who really wanted live theatre to be back,” Long said.

The students recently competed at region virtually, qualifying 70 student for the in-person state competition set for mid-April.

Their second-place finish in their one-act play, Arthur Miller’s “Incident at Vichy,” propelled them to win Sweepstakes, with Carson McFarland being singled out with outstanding performance. The entire cast also was awarded outstanding ensemble performance.

“We have a strong male cast and it was written entirely for 17 men, but we made a couple of them women,” he said about the play that was set in 1942 in France that addressed Jewish men being taken to concentration camps. 

Individually and small groups, Hillcrest nabbed nine top three places at region. Elizabeth Martin won humorous monologue with “The Comedy About a Bank Robbery;” Zoe Liu and Amelia Miller took first in classical scene with “Fuente Ovejuna;” Zachary Harvey and Alden Parks placed first in contemporary scene with “Amadeus.” Second-place finishes went to Carson McFarland in his dramatic monologue of “Amadeus;” Joseph Abbot and Serena Rogers in their classical scene of “Ivanov;” Elizabeth Blackwelder and Ruth Woodland in their pantomime, “Monster in the Closet;” and Rachel Johnson and Jacob Ruplinger in the musical theatre category with “Assassins.” Celine Bovey and Robyn Otteson nabbed third place in their contemporary scene of “Mosquitoes.” 

“They’ve worked hard to give it their all,” Long said. “They’ve learned not to take anything for granted.”