By MATT CRANE
During closing ceremonies at the 2013 Mississippi Theatre Association Festival in Columbus Sunday, both Starkville Community Theatre and Starkville High School were recognized with awards for their competition productions.
Krista Vowell, a cast member in SCT’s production of “Dinner with Friends,” said the opportunity and accessibility of theatre in Starkville provides a great service to the city and its residents looking for a creative outlet.
“We are so fortunate in Starkville to have both high school and community theatre level actors, technicians and directors that are absolutely top notch,” she said. “The people who come and see our productions at SCT and SHS are all the better for and it really builds a community.”
“Dinner with Friends” received awards for best costuming and runner-up best show. Acting awards were given to Jonette Wilburn, all-star cast, and Vowell, best actress. SCT member Lyle Tate went home with the best performance by an audience member award, and Paul Ruff was awarded third place in the adult playwriting competition.
Vowell said she is proud of the show SCT brought to this year’s competition weekend.
“I love doing the work that I do, and to have my peers recognize the work that I’ve done feels amazing and it is truly humbling,” she said. “SCT put up a fantastic show and we work very hard. We are very proud of what we did and we appreciate all the support from the community.”
MTA Executive Director Stephen Cunetto he was pleased with this year’s festival.
“We were pleased with the turnout from the high schools and the community here in the Golden Triangle area,” he said. “We had great talent, great performances and a great time.”
The festivals adjudicators chose to advance Meridian’s Company of Angels’ production of “The Boys in Autumn” and Tupelo Community Theatre’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” to the Southeastern Theatre Conference in March.
“I think the adjudicators did a great job in selecting the winners who will be advancing on to SETC and I think they will do a great job representing Mississippi,” he said. “I wish them all to break a leg.”
For the secondary division focusing on high schools, SHS’s production of “The Insanity of Mary Girard” boasted a variety of awards for its acting performances. Acting awards for all-star cast went to Louis Codling, excellence in ensemble acting to “The Furies” and best actress to Mary Kate Hughes.
Director Jessica Taylor said her first MTA festival experience was a good one and she is proud of the work her students brought.
“The students were great throughout the festival and there was a lot of good competition,” she said. “It was a good experience and it provided for a lot of insight for next year.”
Oak Grove High School’s production of “In a Grove: Three Japanese Ghost Stories” and Picayune Memorial High School’s production of “Elephant’s Graveyard” will advance to SETC.
Secondary division chair M.J. Etua said the talent level of the high school students continues to be incredible with every passing year.
“The talent is Mississippi is just amazing and I’m very proud that we have such a pool of talented, beautiful high school students,” she said. “The kids are so supportive of each other on stage and off stage. We just have a fabulous time.”
For more information, visit http://www.mta-online.org .