Local drama students attend Florida State Thespian Festival


Drama students from Ponte Vedra and Nease high schools were among an estimated 5,000 students from across the state selected to participate in the recent Florida State Thespians Festival.

Held March 16-19 in Tampa, the festival featured four days of workshops and performance competitions by the state’s most gifted drama and musical theater performers. From Shakespearean stage combat and character analysis to tap dancing and pantomime, festival workshops offered students a myriad of ways to develop their acting, dancing and singing skills.

The highlight for many students, though, was the opportunity to perform in the competition part of the festival. In order to compete at the state festival, students had to have garnered a “superior” rating at their local district competition.

“We took 24 students to State Thespians,” said Joseph Kemper, drama teacher at Ponte Vedra High School. “We received Superior ratings in Small Group Musical (Jessica Goldman, Kylie Giliberto and Olivia Wolford) for their performance of ‘There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This’ from ‘Sweet Charity’ and Ensemble Acting (Paxton Peterson, Janaya Banks, Alexa Sarci and Joe Sarci) for their performance of ‘Andre’s Mother.’”

Ponte Vedra students also received Excellent rankings in Monologue Performance, Duet Musical and Ensemble Acting.

Thirteen students from the Nease drama program attended the state festival, including senior Gaby Greenwald, who earned a Superior ranking in the Solo Musical category for her performance of “Burn” from the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Nease also earned Superior scores in Duet Acting (Gaby Greenwald and Suzanna Neal for “Spring Awakening”) and Small Group Musical (Gaby Greenwald, Sarah Jacobs, Suzanna Neal, Elijah Reppert, Kathleen Reyes and Abby Watson for “Spring Awakening”). Excellent rankings, meanwhile, were achieved in Scene Design and Playwriting.