MO State Conference Jan 2016 in KC

KC - Here We Come Again!

We've got "Magic to Do"... the theme of this year's conference

This year Mr. Schaefer, Mrs. Romanowski and Mr. Van Blarcum took an adventure to Kansas City, MO to the Downton Marriot Hotel and KC Convention Center to attend the 2016 MO State Thespian Conference.

We were so fortunate to take 44 students 
to the conference this year. 

The students must be initiated and have an ITS number from our state chapter in order to attend. This is an honor for the students and we are always encouraging kids to work on the shows after school, help out in the department and participate in the one act program to earn points. 

When the students have worked a certain number of hours in the department (excluding classtime) they are invited by the sponsors to join the Thespian troupe and some are asked to attend state. This year we forced initiated some students who were involved in the production of Hamlet.
Our very own Natalia Sauer designed image on the cover for the festival program and it was also used for the T-shirt at festival... WG Represent'n!


This year the conference was moved to KC and we stayed at the Downtown Marriot Hotel. It was a wonderful place for us and they were a fabulous host to our kids and staff.

The hotel was beautiful and had lots of room for us to move around and spread out.


The rooms were nice and the kids had either four to a room or 3 to a room depending.

We had a Skywalk that took us from one tower of the Marriot to the other. We also used an underground tunnel to get from the hotels to the KC Convention Center.

The view was amazing and you can see the Convention Center to the right.

      Hannah, Alex, Bridget, Nick and Erica hanging in the lobby, getting ready to start the day. 
Lily, Maddy, Rowan, Molly, and Emma hanging out as well...plenty of space at conference to spread out and get comfortable with friends.


The Music Hall is the reason we wanted to get a show to conference this year. It is huge and can hold all of the MO Thespians at once. St Louis's convention center can't fit everyone into one theater, so each show has to perform twice with less set-up time. 

The Lobby to the Music Hall was amazing and had a really neat mix of Greco-Roman features mixed with 1920's Art Deco influences. It was a beautiful and elegant theater for the kids to go and watch the main stage shows, the IE showcase and have their general assembly meetings during the conference.

A part of Troupe 191 in the house enjoying the other mainstage show that was presented this year.

Goldie Raznick and Simon Moore sitting in the grand house of the empty KC Music Hall 


We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to bring our HAMLET to conference this year! Raymond Peculiar HS was the other high school who produced a show at State (they brought Much Ado About Nothing). We both brought Shakepseare. 

Wednesday Jan 6th the Advanced Technical Theater class helped load in the Uhaul that Mr. Schaefer picked up that morning. We put the entire set, all of the costumes, the lighting system, the props, and all of the extra stuff we needed. It filled a 17 ft truck and we barely got the door closed. Mr. Schaefer and Nick drove the truck up Wed night and got it parked and checked into the Hotel. We wanted to be ready to load in first  thing in the morning. Jonah and Jacob were aleady up there as well as State Officers

Hannah Leatherbarrow (Hamlet) seeing the theater's house for the first time Thurs morning from the stage and getting a bit overwhelmed at what she had to do that evening in front of 2300 MO Thespians.

Thursday - Jan 7th - We met with the Union Technicians at the Loading dock and with the help from a fre MICDS kids (Omar rocked!) we got the truck unloaded onto the stage. 

The set was designed to travel and we did a great job at keeping the structure manageable for this type of quick set up.

The troupe helped get all of the pieces placed on the stage and Nick Wylie immediately started arranging the set. Jonah started figuring out the lights.

The crews were great. We had some members of the cast, members of the troupe and  Mr. Schaefer helping put it all back together. Nick brought the right tools and it went up fast!

The stage was very large and the orchestra pit cover had been removed (something we had not planned for) and so the set had to be pushed up stage further than we wanted. We made adjustments and made it work.

Ben Hardin worked his tail off on Thursday with the set build

Costumes were taken to the dressing rooms and Emma Dowling once again got everyone's stuff organized and ready for the show.


The KC Music Hall is a professional union theater and they house many of the Broadway tours that come through KC. The backstage is well equipped with dressing rooms and make-up stations.


Jonah getting the lat minute stuff done and Mrs. Romanowski taking her moment in the spot light

 Jonah Schnell was the lighting guy on the show and he spent all Thursday getting the lights hug, focused, gel'd and the board programmed with cues. It was the craziets day of his life and he had lots of help from Robery Hood, Jacob Noce and the union crew staff at the Music Hall.

Jonah was amazing at his job and called the focus from the stage while the union techies did the hang and focus. This is not an easy job to do and the men were very complimentary of his organization and work ethic as a lighting designer of his age.
                                    Robbie getting some gels ready to go into the instruments

The lighting system was very complex and the theater had a lot of space to travel, so the lighting job took longer than expected. We went right up against the wire and the audience was let into the theater as we entered our last cue. This proved to be a hurdle at show time. We never got to preview our cues in the board before the show and because of a fast programming of the board some cues didn't record as we thought and Jonah had to run a good portion of the manually. This was a great learning opportunity for him and he pushed through like a pro! 

             We had the cast get into costume early and they did odd jobs as they waited for mics
                                              We had to fold 2300 programs for the show.


The ladies got ready with the help of the make-up crew, Joe and AKG pose in their costumes.

Sam Toskin at the sound board getting the microphones leveled 
and the sound effect laptop hooked up. 

The cast all had their own mics which made the gig much easier backstage and at the board. Robby Hood assisted on the sound board as well running levels.

 Everyone was given their own microphone. We did a mic test and then chenged batteries and did another at showtime. It proved to be a good thing in the end...we had great sound in the show. Everyone was heard and the audience never had a hard time understanding what was being said.

                                            Everyone was pumped to give the show another run!

The space was much bigger than our theater at WGHS, but the cast went back into rehearsal to prepare the necessary changes needed to make the adjustment. They did an amzing job at broading out their physicality in the acting and they all spent time cleaning up their diction.

The cast and crew had a great time on Thursday but it was stressful getting everything ready and making sure we didn't forget anything. Once it was all set up and the actors were in their costumes, mic'd and in their seemed like old times!

Nick and maggie in the Dressing room getting ready              Rowan getting a mic set

The food they tried to get to us when we were in the theater working on the show became a really bad joke. They made us go up to the 6th floor to get our food from a buffet when we were up against the wire in final preparations to open the show downstairs.

                         Warm-ups got the energy up, pep talks got us focused and we got fired up 
                                     in a room below the stage right before we opened the show


This group worked so hard to get here and their work paid off. It is a huge opportunity to travel a show to the State Conference and without all the dedication to the play, we would never have made it. Congrats to TROUPE 191 for this amazing achievement. WGHS is very proud of you.

Special thanks to the designers and the crew who put in so much extra effort to keep the machine running smooth.    

The plaque they gave us for bringing a show              The hoodies we ordered for the cast /crew

Dr Riss drove out to KC to see our show and support WG Drama...
(here is what she wrote about us in her weekly update)
            Last week I had the pleasure of attending the WGHS performance of Hamlet at the Missouri State Thespian Conference.   Our thespians were amazing!  These are the comments sent to the cast, “Please tell the cast and crew that I thoroughly enjoyed the performance last night.  I know it is hard to perform in a new theater where the equipment and stage are different than your norm but you did so with grace, talent, and enthusiasm.  The standing O at the end of the performance was spontaneous and started by your HS peers. They laughed at the right times, were engaged in the show, and truly valued your performance as did I.  I could not be prouder.  It was a joy to be there.  You were great and represented WGHS in a wonderful way!”  Special thanks to Todd Schaefer, Sarah Romanowski, and Jason Van Blarcum for facilitating this experience for our students.


The group of kids that attended to represent WG were amazing and really worked hard to prepare pieces for performance, technical, improv, and design competitions that STATE offers.

In the end it proved to be worth the effort. We were honored with lots of recognition for the work the kids put in and we also received top honors within our troupe.


The WG Drama Department has classes that build a really great core for improv. The students who take Drama I get a introduction to improvisational acting and then Advanced Drama class takes that training a step further with a more in-depth look at the structure of the games and the foundations of building better teamwork in this type of acting. 

WGHS - "TOP HAT Improv" 
Annelise Kerr-Grant, Miles Umbaugh, Travis Williams, Natalia Sauer, and Lily Newsham

We learned several of the games right before conference. They also practiced a bit in workshops at conference and in some of the time waiting outside the judging room.


The Tech Team worked very hard on preparing for all of their events, and in the end only played a few of them at State. Jonah Schnell was the captain and he held regular practice session at school before we left to get their times on the events down to what was in the state archives as best score. It proved to be worth the effort. They WON 2nd BEST OVER-ALL SCORE!!!

This gives them an invite to nationals and an opportunity to compete again as a team!!! 

The Team had some great chemistry and the students that decided to work on this event shared an equal enthusiasm to attempt a win. Jonah's schedule was tough and he held them accountable for their individual activities in the competition. 

Maddy Toskin, Jonah Schnell (captain), Alex White, Nick Wylie, and Jacob Noce

This is a wonderful opportunity for some of our techies to shine at conference and it is a great way to showcase the different sides of tech theater. Sometimes we can forget that without the technicians the actors would be on a bare stage, in the dark, holding nothing, and standing there naked. Techies bring theater to life!

WG Tech Team placed in three of the events this year!



We are allowed to send students to compete in IEs (Individual Events) at State and they are judged in a room against a rubric. The judges are usually theater educators from other schools and they are given a certain time slot and time limit for their piece. It is done like the standard speech events at a speech and debate tournament and the rooms allow other students to watch.

It is modeled to emulate the process a performer would face in an audition, and it gives the student the opportunity to pick interesting material and push themselves as artists.    

We are only allowed to send one student for each category. 


Goldie Raznick worked very hard preparing her two selections. She performed cuttings from the play "Wit" and from "Danny and Deep Blue Sea" 


Emma Dowling (Junior) and Jake Collins (Junior) worked very hard preparing their selection. They performed a cutting from the play "Almost Maine"

Check out their performance!


We also had Jack Wight (Junior) bring a piece to state and it was entirely new to us. We hadn't worked on it in class or in production. He selected the piece well before winter break and he got very familiar with it before we left and coached it with his voice teacher prior to leaving for competition.

Jack did a great job in his IE event and got two superior ratings and one excellent. This was a great warm up and next year he'll come back to try again. Now he knows how the game is played.

                           He performed a piece from the musical Taboo called "Petrified"


This is the third year we participated in the IE Design events. Three students from our troupe worked on design boards and brought presentations for the judges.


Jonah Schnell designed the lights for Hamlet by William Shakespeare. He spent a lot of time on this show and he used our production at the high school and his design for State to share. He has gotten more proficient on Vector Works and digital renderings of his plot. The design was impressive and very complex. 

Jonah put together a display board and slideshow for his IE and everything looked great. However the State show and being a State Officer took up a lot of his time Thursday and he didn't get as much time to run his presentation as he had done in his past IE competitions. He admitted he was a bit tired and distracted by the Music Hall performance we were working on that day for Hamlet

The experience of interviewing is always worth the time and he walked away with good feedback.


Nick Wylie completed an amazing design for Hamlet that he entered into the IE. He completed an tri board with his designs and inspirations. He also did a texture sample board for all of the scenic artist applications he would have done. The highlight of the design...the awesome model he presented. 

The IE is an opportunity for the students interested in design to take the production being done at the HS and redesign it the way they see it. Nick did an awesome job of recreating Hamlet,  it was completely new and very well executed in the model. He didn't get high enough scores for an invite to Nationals this year, but he will try again next year knowing how the game is played.


Kate Arendes also competed in design, but she entered the event for PR Marketing and created original designs for our Fall play Hamlet. This was a great project for her and she rocked it out in the end. (and it was really up against the time limit to get done).

All of her work paid off and she was invited to go to Nationals in June!

Kate presented well and the judges liked her effort to create a design that used 
the vision of the director to inspire her own individual choices. 

Here she is with her design board and her display of marketing tools for Hamlet. Kate is in Advanced Tech Theater class this year and excels in drawing and drafting. Her work as an officer in our troupe and marketing our shows has really helped her prepare for this event.


Simon Moore (WG Reel Film Club) submitted a film tobe considered for judging in the film competition. He created a short film from the script written by Kate Arendes called "450" . He was up against the wire in production and had several hurdles when filming due to the location of the shoot.

The film turned out great and it was a wonderful way for him to get familiar with the rules of the competition. He'll be back next year for another go of it.


Jonah Schnell - Was awarded one of the $1000 Technical Theater Scholarships
Jonah had to hold interviews with the judges for a long time on Friday with his lighting design for Hamlet. He did awesome!

Essence Tyler  - Was awarded on of the $1000 Performance Scholarships
Essence had to sing for her audition and she wowed the judges.  

STATE SHOW Auditions and CAST  2017

Jacob Noce and Hannah Leatherbarrow were both cast in next year's All State show. 

Jacob got to go on stage when they announced the cast, Hannah had already left because of the weather conditions in St Louis


We are so pleased with Jonah Schnell's work in our department as an officer and leader in troupe 191, but he also has put in time and energy with the MO Thespian Chapter. He is a Senior this year and has really inspired other thespians in the troupe to pursue leadership opportunities in the department and as a state officer.   

The 2015-2016 State Officers 
(Jonah is on the far right)
Picture from last year's conference

Jonah worked very hard this year as a State Thespian Officer. He travelled to Jeff City, attended meetings, organized the other officers and got a lot accompished for the State Conference this year. 

This conference had him meeting and working with the officers elect to learn the ropes for conference, and then at the end of the awards ceremony on Sat. Jonah formally handed over the reigns to our new member of the STO team (and Troupe 191 WG Drama member...Jacob Noce.


The Officers Elect for 2016           Jonah at the auction table        Jacob with a fellow elect

Here is Jacob and Jonah on stage after Jacob is given his official sash as a State Officer (STO)

The Conference Center

We are so luck to have such a dedicated MO Thespian Board and they really put in a lot of work to make this event happen for us. The Building we used for the conference was awesome. It took us all day Thurs to figure it out, but once we got out selves acquainted with the layout of the space it was a piece of cake navigating the weekend. 

The various rooms we used for all of the great workshops, the improv competition, the page to stage, the other one acts, and the Friday night dance (which was Glow themed and had a great DJ)

The Friday night dance was a huge success - as always!!

Lots of rooms they used had space for physical movement and they had to hold a lot of people

Jacob , Nick and Robert hanging out at Conference!

The Workshops

The students attended several sections of workshop per day depending on what else they had going on, and each workshop was taught by a professional in that field. All sorts of workshops that included lighting, make-up, acting, auditioning, directing, dancing, improv, set design, costumes, shakespeare, and a host of others. 

                           Bridget and Maggie practicing a dance they learned in a workshop

    The Circus Arts workshop is always fun!

             We always love seeing the fabulous Mr. Ed Reggi (The King of St Louis Improv)

A lot of our troupe attended the very taxing workshop that explored the Rasabox technique. This was a tough workshop that explored the emotional range of the actor.

This is the the coolest thing at conference 
and the students took full advantage of these great learning opportunities


We bought into the meal plan this year and it really saves us time in the end. The food was fine and the hotel staff was extremely friendly. We had several different meals that included: pasta, chicken, nachos, salads, soups, and sandwiches. They had water and ice tea and the lines moved ok.

Next year we'll probably do the plan again...even though it is a little expensive for what you get...
it is less work on our part. 

In Conclusion

We had such a great time! 

WG Drama would like to thank Mr. Schaefer and Mrs. Romanowski for their time in getting the kids to KC for the three day trip, Mr. VanBlarcum for being our third sponsor for the trip. We also want to thank Mrs. Romanowski for putting a lot of time into registration and the paperwork to get the students logged in, paid for and figuring out all of the transportation issues. 

Goodnight sweet moon!


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