Center Stage: Drama Fest kicks off busy theater weekend at high school, college venues

Liberty High School students perform in "Beauty and the Beast" during Drama Fest at Carroll Community College in Westminster Friday.
Liberty High School students perform in "Beauty and the Beast" during Drama Fest at Carroll Community College in Westminster Friday. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

High school actors and actresses gathered at Carroll Community College Friday to perform a 30-minute sample of their spring musical in front of their peers.

The annual Drama Fest serves as a showcase for theater students from seven of Carroll's eight high schools.

Musicals ranged from love stories and Broadway hits to musical thrillers and comedies, providing an impressive ensemble of productions on a busy theater weekend.

Westminster and Liberty are both performing their spring musicals this weekend. The morning Drama Fest performances served as one last promotional opportunity for their shows.

Westminster High's Sarah Snead led her school in the musical "Legally Blonde," performing as Elle Woods. It's a role she would reprise later in the evening.

Westminster is among the first to get the rights to the "Legally Blonde" musical script, theater teacher Melissa Purdy said.

"This was the most fun I have ever had preparing for and performing a play," said Snead, a senior. "It is truly rewarding to perform in front of our peers. They work so hard to show us what they love and what we love too."

Snead plans to continue her education at American University in the fall and hopes to continue acting as a hobby. Some of her peers believe she should continue to perform professionally.

"Sarah is the perfect Elle," said fellow Westminster High student Claire Brenner. "Nobody could have done it better."

Members of Liberty High's drama club performed "Beauty and the Beast," which is wrapping up this weekend with shows at 2 and 7 p.m. today.

Nathan Cromer, starring as Beast, sang a rendition of "If I Can't Love Her" that prompted an ovation from theater students on hand.

Carroll Community College, the host site for Drama Fest this year, also has a show this weekend.

Carroll Community College theatre disciplines coordinator Bill Gillett said his crew temporarily moved portions of his "Much Ado About Nothing" set to accomodate the high school actors on stage.

"Much Ado About Nothing" is being performed at 7:30 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Scott Center.

Gillett occasionally casts high school actors in his Carroll Community College productions. Having hundreds of theater students on campus serves as a valuable promotion for opportunities at Carroll, he said.

South Carroll's Stagelighters looked to a Broadway classic for their spring choice, one that is uncommon for high schools to perform.

"Cats" required ornate make up and full spandex body suits in order to make the alley scene more realistic.

"The musical went fantastically," said Taylor Rieland, a lead cat. "We had a full house almost every night and the audience loved it."

Other schools that performed at the festival Friday included Manchester Valley High School with "Once Upon a Mattress," North Carroll with "Grease," Winters Mill High School with "Sweeney Todd" and Century High School with "Cinderella".

Winters Mill's performance featured a full orchestra pit directed by Winters Mill instrumental music director Kristen Gottleib.

The goal of the Drama Fest is not to create a competition between schools, rather to create awareness of drama programs within the county while providing new opportunities to actors and actresses in every high school, according to the festival's pamphlet.

"Performing here, in front of all of these people that are our age, gives us an energy that we can't find anywhere else," Cromer said.

Staff writer Brandon Oland contributed to this report.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun