Leigh one-act

LEIGH HIGH’S performance of “The Phantom of the Playground” earned it third place in the Class D2 portion of the state one-act play championships Wednesday at the Johnny Carson Theatre at Norfolk High School.

Humphrey St. Francis has a well-deserved reputation for its excellence in athletic competitions.

But its students are no slouches when it comes to theater, too.

That was evident Wednesday when St. Francis claimed top honors Wednesday in the Class D1 portion of the state one-act play championships in Norfolk put on by the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA).

St. Francis took home the title with its play, “No Loose Ends,” directed by Michael McPhillips and Tina Schumacher. The play was about a group of criminals in the Prohibition era.

What’s more, Kelly Zach, who portrayed the role of Jackie in the play, was honored as the outstanding male performer in Class D1.

St. Francis’ win was part of the opening of the three-day run of one-act plays at the Johnny Carson Theatre at Norfolk High School. The competition continues through Friday afternoon with larger schools scheduled to perform Thursday and Friday.

Debra Velder, associate director of the NSAA, led Wednesday’s award ceremony and congratulated all the schools that participated, recognizing that just qualifying for state competition is a significant accomplishment.

She also praised the efforts of students and staff at Norfolk High and the theater.

Norfolk High principal Derek Ippensen said it’s a great opportunity for the community and the high school, as well as the schools participating.

“The crowds tend to get bigger as the bigger schools start coming in, but we have had great representation from across Northeast Nebraska and the state,” Ippensen said. “There’s been a lot of energy and buzzing in the halls.”

Ben Ries, the activities director for Norfolk High, said efforts by students and volunteers from throughout the community helped the competition get off to a good start Wednesday.

“This has been a team effort between the NSAA, (Norfolk High), the community and the many volunteers who’ve taken time out of their day,” Ries said.

In all, 12 Class D2 and D1 schools from across the state performed their plays Wednesday.

In Class D2, emerging as the winner was McPherson County, which performed “Dark Road” under the direction of Robyn Dalton.

The runner-up was St. Edward, which performed “Captain Bree and Her Lady Pirates” under the direction of Chase King, an English teacher at the school.

The play was about a group of female pirates, led by Captain Bree, who takes the hapless Captain Jennings and his small crew as hostages.

Finishing second was a significant accomplishment for the Northeast Nebraska school, which had  last qualified for the state play production competition in 1997 and last won a title in 1986.

When it was announced on the theater stage that the school had earned runner-up, a large contingent of St. Edward parents and supporters loudly cheered throughout the theater, with King and the student cast rushing down the aisle to receive their trophy.

Alias Schumacher, who portrayed Captain Jennings, also was recognized as the outstanding male performer for Class D2.

Leigh High, another area school, finished third in the judging. Leigh performed “Phantom of the Playground,” under the direction of Kylie Hollatz. The play was a modernized adaptation of “Phantom of the Opera” set at an elementary school playground.

In Class D1, another area school, Bloomfield, performed “Conflict,” directed by Lee Ann Runyon. The play finished sixth overall.