You can’t start your first year at a new school much better than Eddie McPherson did.
The new director of theater at Woodland High School led his performing arts team to the 5A regional championship in the One-Act Play Competition Oct. 28 at WHS and to a fourth-place finish in the state competition Nov. 4 in LaGrange.
“It was a great experience for our students to make it to state as well as see other students from all over the state perform their shows,” McPherson said. “It was a fun day. Placing fourth at the state level was a great privilege.”
Senior Ansley Self said “just making it to state was a huge deal” for the cast and crew members.
“We are all super-grateful for the opportunity to represent Woodland High School at the state competition,” she said.
At state, the group, known as Cartersville Artistic Talents Showcase, went up against six other schools with its one-act play “Anatomy of Gray” by Jim Leonard Jr.
“It’s one of my favorite plays,” McPherson said. “Even though it’s written as a full length, I cut it to a one-act show. Beautifully written with a heartfelt message.”
What did the first-year director think of his actors’ performance of one of his favorite theater pieces?
“They rocked it,” he said. “They received great comments from the judges. They made me very proud.”
The young performers had a very large cheering section at the competition, according to McPherson.
“Most of our parents were there as well as students and our awesome principal, Dr. [Wes] Dickey, who showed his support by driving down, which meant a lot to the kids and me,” he said. “We felt the love and support from all these folks.”
At the regional level, the team won the championship by defeating eight other schools and giving a performance that “blew my mind,” McPherson said.
“It was the first time I watched the show without having to take notes to give them after rehearsals so I was able to watch it like everyone else,” he said. “I laughed and cried as they performed.”
And winning the title during McPherson’s first year at WHS was “extra fun,” he said.
“These kids were easy to love from my very first day as their teacher/director,” he said. “And I learned very quickly they were easy to direct. They got it. And their passion for theater and commitment to rehearsals were what made us win first place.”
Self, 18, was thrilled to win the championship in her final year at Woodland.
“Winning the regional competition was an amazing experience, especially considering it is my senior year,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the rest of the cast and crew, Technical Director Kerrie Robinson and Director Eddie McPherson.”
Making up the award-winning cast was Tyler Lieving as Galen Gray, Kaitlyn Ingram as June Muldoon, Kaitlyn Hanks as Rebekah Muldoon, David Bigger and Eli Potter as Pastor Phineas Wingfield, Ansley Self as Tiny Wingfield, Cam Collis as Crutch Collins, Lauren Sowden as Belva Collins, Nikki Henry as Maggie, David Bigger and Jakob Scott as Homer, Lexy Grizzle as Sarah, Alyssa Mize as Abagail, Katherine Miller as Eve, Josh Cornett as Andrew, Sarah Schneider as Leah, Bailee Bozeman as Miriam, Wendy Librado as Naomi, Maddie Shelton as Phoebe, Devon Kirkpatrick as Aaron, Emily Henry as Tabitha, Chason Gayton as Barnabas and Savannah Banta as Julia.
McPherson said auditions for the play were conducted at the beginning of September, and the cast rehearsed every day in class as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays after school.
Self said she wanted to participate in the one-act play because of her passion for performing.
“Being my fourth year in the CATS program, my love for theater is extreme,” she said. “Going to the one-act competition is not only fun because we get to go out and perform and do what we love, but we also get to meet students from other schools who have the same shared passion for theater.”
The actors don’t have time to rest on their laurels, as they have several shows coming up between now and springtime.
They will perform a children’s show, a historical comedy titled “The Entire American Revolution in 40 Minutes or Less,” Wednesday for the elementary school students who will be bused to WHS to watch, McPherson said.
Next weekend, the actors will perform a double feature of “Anatomy of Gray” and “The American Revolution” Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
After a short holiday break, the group will stage “Mary Poppins” the weekend of Feb. 9, “Legally Blonde” in March and the CATS Showcase in April.