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CHS One Act Play Performing Tuesday After Advancing to Bi-District


                Cleburne High School’s One Act Play cast and crew will be back on stage Tuesday as competitors in the Bi-District round of UIL performance taking place at Poteet High School in Mesquite.

                Cleburne’s production of scenes from “Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up” was one of three chosen to advance in UIL competition following performances at the District 14-5A contest.

In addition to qualifying for Bi-District, senior Antares Ewell, as “Wendy” received the Best Actress Award, with Julie Hall, as “Peter Pan,” named to the All-Star Cast. All-Star Cast Honorable Mentions included Keaton Howe and Takara Bailey for their portrayals of Mr. and Mrs. Darling. Receiving the All-Star Technical Crew Award for the Cleburne production was Solomon Drane.

Members of Cleburne’s award-winning One Act Team also include Anthony Sullivan, Nick Earley, Jase Felton, Sean Rodolfo, Elizabeth Peña, Cooper Madison, Emily Moore, Skye Ewell, Madison Dawson, Chloe Whitehead, Damson Chola and Hallie Davis. The Technical Crew includes Beverly Flower, Schyler Boone and Makayla Osborn.

This is the fourth consecutive year for Cleburne to move on from District in UIL One Act Play under the guidance of Theater Arts teacher/Production Director Keli Price. Last year, Cleburne’s entry, “Jane Eyre” was among the Bi-District qualifiers, only to see the curtain come down on UIL competition statewide with the onset of COVID-19 and precautions to prevents its spread.

                 In preparing for the 2020-21 school year, Price said she wanted to engage her students in something lighthearted, after being closed in and closed down for months. Her department’s fall production of the musical version of “The Addams Family,” staged in the high school’s new Black Box Theater, was just that.

                “Doing Peter Pan rather than something dark or deeply dramatic might be viewed as a risk in One Act Play,” Price said. “But we were so down in the dumps when our performance season closed early last year. I was determined to do something fun—and so were my students.”

                “We worked together to review and discuss scripts for the 2021 contest,” Price said. “After making our decision, the students did the cutting in developing the script. When we were finished, we had our own rendition of ‘Peter Pan.’ Going through that process was fun for them, but they also have a lot more buy-in—because this is ‘their’ show.”

                Hall, in her role of the boy who would not grow up, said she had faith in the play—and its performers—from the start. She also received All-Star Cast District honors in 2020 for her portrayal of Jane Eyre.

                “The style of this show is so different than what we’ve done in the past, in doing deep drama,” Hall said. “But I had faith. Peter Pan is such a great show.”

                “I felt relieved at the end of our District performance, and finally took a deep breath,” she said. “But I was also very excited because I knew we did well. It was pure joy and celebration when we heard we were advancing.”

                Hall hoped to land the part of Peter Pan, despite the fact that it was a far different from her previous One Act role of the tragic heroine, Jane Eyre.

                “The acting style between the two was definitely different,” she said. “But being an actress, you take on different roles. I was determined to bring Peter Pan to life. Receiving All-Star Cast gave me a sense of affirmation that I had done justice to the part. Now that we have advanced to Bi-District, the stakes will be higher in qualifying for the next contest level. But we are all determined to do the work it takes to get there.”

                From the moment “Peter Pan” was decided as Cleburne’s 2021 One Act Play entry, Ewell began working on her audition for “Wendy.”

                “I wanted Wendy,” Ewell said. “When I was younger, my sister had a Peter Pan birthday party and I dressed up as Wendy. I have always loved her. I feel like I’m living my little girl dream in getting to play her on stage. It’s a fantastic part.”

                Ewell, too, took a deep breath once the lights went down on their District contest performance.

                “You don’t feel you can take that second breath until after you are out of ‘show mode,’” she said. “I was so happy with what we did. This has been my favorite of the three One Act productions I have been a part of. The other two were dark and serious and this one is so fun.”

                “We have a wonderful cast,” Ewell said. “It’s been a joy to go to rehearsal every day. We’ve never dropped our high energy. Being named Best Actress and seeing us advance to Bi-District makes me feel that what we all worked hard to achieve, has paid off. We want to continue to perform—and go all the way to State.”

                The Cleburne production will take the stage at noon on Tuesday. Price is pleased to see her “powerhouse” cast advancing to Bi-District, especially after experiencing the missed opportunity of 2020.

                “I am so appreciative of these kids—they have done everything I’ve asked,” Price said. “Everyone who has critiqued this show has commented on the 100 percent commitment from the cast on stage. The judges have commented on the ‘moments’ between cast members. I feel we have a great show. There are no guarantees—it’s all in the hands of the judges. But I will tell you the cast of this show doesn’t feel their race is done.”