Standing in front of a panel of judges who will critique every detail of a performance has been in primetime culture at least since “American Idol.” It is an experience that’s nerve-racking for most, but three Dalton High School students have found that auditions can pay off.
Senior Katelynn Brock and juniors Emma Phinney and Ben Southerland will head to Columbus early next year to take part in the opening number for the 2013 Georgia Thespians Conference, a nonprofit education organization (www.gathespians.org) that promotes itself as the “all-state of high school theater.”
“Last year, I went to the 2011 conference as an audience member,” said Brock. “I had no idea what I was going to see. The high schools put on the musical ‘Aida’ and it was so amazing. It made me want to audition this year. All I thought of when I was there was how I would not get in. I did get in and it’s an amazing feeling.”
But auditions last month — split into dancing and singing — were not easy for the three students, said Southerland.
“We were the first to go in dancing,” Southerland said. “It did not go well at all. The other schools had time to practice. We did not. We prepared for the singing.”
Brock said the group members were relying on their singing to make up for their dancing.
“We’re not dancers,” said Brock. “After dancing it was time for the singing and they set us up in the same arrangement (order).”
Because of their dance audition the students didn’t expect their singing to win the judges over, especially Emma Phinney, who sang “Astonishing” from “Little Women.”
“That was one of the first shows I saw on Broadway,” Phinney said. “I was 9. I still remember that song and it means a lot to me as a performer and a person. The opportunity to sing that song is pretty cool. I was more focused on the opportunity because I knew I would not get a callback. I sang it and they said ‘OK, we’ll see you at 11:45.’ It was amazing.”
In callbacks the students had to sing a song chosen by the judges, said Brock. After that, all three were selected.
Brock, Phinney and Southerland are now rehearsing twice a month with 71 students from 42 different schools who were chosen for the conference, which will be held Feb. 7-9.
“Schools from all over the state with thespian troupes send three of their best performers to audition for the opening number,” said conference Director Jenny Morris. “Approximately 60 schools from all over Georgia participated and we narrowed it down from that.”
Southerland said he didn’t know how many students were involved until he arrived at auditions.
“At first I thought this would just be a good opportunity to meet other students who were passionate about theater,” said Southerland. “When I was there they told me that this is the all-state of theater. That made me feel almost professional.”
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