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South Valley Journal

Riverton Medals at State Drama

Jun 15, 2016 09:18AM ● By Tori La Rue

Students from Riverton High School dressed in costumes and performed scenes and monologues during the state theater competition on April 16.

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Olivia Casper, Grayson O’very and Logan Johnson said they were surprised to find themselves competing against the best of the best in the final medals round of the state theater competition.

Olivia, 18, Grayson, 18, and Logan, 17, performed the musical theater scene “You Don’t Know/I Am the One from Next to Normal,” which is “a powerhouse song with crazy emotion behind it,” according to Grayson. Olivia played Diana, a wife and mother who is mentally unstable; Logan played Dan, Diana’s stressed husband; and Grayson played Gabe, the dead son of Dan and Diana. 

The judges and spectators at the region competition were unfamiliar with back-story of “Next to Normal,” which left them confused by the Riverton High School students’ blocking and acting choices, Olivia said. The three teens didn’t place at region. 

“It was just so different at region,” Olivia said. “They didn’t understand our song. They would tell us that it was weird that I was lying on the floor or avoiding my husband, but they didn’t know that my character is literally going crazy.” 

At state, the students added a quick disclaimer at the beginning of their act, sharing the nature of each of their characters. The quick introduction helped people focus on the meaning of their song, instead of its abstract nature, Logan said. After their finals round performance at state, they were awarded with third place out of about 80 other musical theatre scenes from 26 schools across the state.

“It came as a surprise, really,” Logan said. “We just weren’t expecting that kind of recognition.” 

Riverton High brought 20 individual events to the state competition at Bingham High School on April 16, and 17 of those events received straight superiors—the highest rating—from the judges. The best events in each category—classical scenes, contemporary scenes, musical theater scenes, dramatic monologues, humorous monologues and pantomimes—were invited to perform in the medals round. 

 Although they didn’t place, Whitney Gillman and Bailey Lawson’s musical scene also went to the medals round. 

“It was really awesome that we had two Riverton groups representing our school in the medals round,” Olivia said. 

Whitney, 17, and Bailey, 17, performed “If Mama Was Married” from “Gypsy,” pretending to be sisters who dream about what their life would be like if their mother got married. 

“One of our most common comments about our song was that our voices sounded good together or that we really seemed like sisters,” Whitney said. “It’s funny because we really are like sisters in real life, so it wasn’t hard to act.” 

When Whitney moved to Riverton a few years ago, she said she and Bailey became close friends almost instantly, and their friendship has only grown. That’s why it wasn’t hard for them to put in 15 hours of practice to get their song performance ready, Bailey said. 

“We wanted to give this all that we had because it’s our last year, and neither of us had made it to the medals round before,” Olivia said. 

“It gets exhausting running through it so many times, and having our teachers coach us so much, but it really helped us to get our scene where we wanted it,” Bailey said. 

Bailey and Whitney made it to the medals round at state and region. It was a great confidence boost for them, Whitney said. 

In addition to the individual events state competition, Riverton High School hosted the annual one act play state competition. Riverton’s one act, “The Pillowman,” tied for third place and Dani Brady, junior, and Mikey Rowe, sophomore, won best supporting actor. 

“The judges can only give six of these special awards, so for two of them to be given to our students, when there were 15 plays, is pretty significant,” Erin McGuire, theater teacher at Riverton High said. 

McGuire said she was proud of her students for what they accomplished at state. 

“Many of these students don’t get a chance to be part of a play or musical production, so being able to perform at region and state helps them to increase their performance abilities, make new friends, and represent RHS and RHS drama,” McGuire said. “I’m always pleased when my students are recognized for their talent and efforts. It’s great for them to hear someone besides me tell them that they are creating good theater.”