Middleton Theatre pictured on a Zoom recording while performing War of the Worlds.

Monday, December 21, 2020 - 2:53 pm

MHS Theatre won the All State and Ensemble awards for its one-act play, War of the Worlds Adaption, at the Wisconsin High School Theatre State Festival held virtually on Dec. 10-12.

MHS Theatre students adapted the infamous, panic-inducing, radio drama presented by Orson Wells and the Mercury Players of the Air in 1938, program director Katrina Brunner said. Using the original script, written by Howard Koch, students explored the question, What if this were happening in 2020?

MHS Theatre submitted a recording of the show, with no post-performance editing, to be adjudicated at three different levels. The production advanced through the district level on Oct. 27 and advanced through the sectional level on Nov. 13.

The process presented creative challenges unrelated to the video format, Brunner said. The show required students to create a cohesive, unique story while pulling it into today's world.

"It wouldn't have worked without good collaboration and commitment. Our students had both of those things,'' Brunner said. "They repeatedly embraced 'outside of the box' problem-solving and made something that is truly their own. When they were awarded an Ensemble Award, it made sense to me. These students approached this project looking to tell a good story, rather than build one or two people up. It felt like an ensemble piece from the beginning.''

Cast members included: Vivian Wagner, Jon Ellis, Nicholas Tormey, Lalaina Ratsimihah, Reese Johanningmeier, Greta Kunze, Tanner Choate, Avery Brutosky, Natalie Feagan, Michael Chiaverini, Rachel Reichard, Abby Sperger, and Jack Asmus.

The stage manager was Eli Tedesco. Stage crew members included: Amanda Tung, Aren Streets, Mia Burkholder, Sophia Pieters, Ifra Buhari, Srija Katukam, Maille Miller, Gabby Hellmer, Evelyn Anderson, and Emily Lynch.

The recording of War of the Worlds can still be watched on the Middleton Theatre Youtube Channel.

Only 40 state schools were recognized with awards at the State Festival.

"You should be extremely proud of the theatre program at Middleton High School and the accomplismnent of the entire cast and crew who represented you in such an outstanding manner,'' WHSFA executive director Adam Jacobi said in a statement.

The Wisconsin High School Theatre State Festival began in 1930 and each year approximately 1,800 students typically attend. This year's festival was held virtually due to COVID-19.  The three days are packed with workshops featuring trained professionals, one-act and individual event contest performances, showcase productions, and exhibitors from theatre vendors to collegiate programs.

Visit the Wisconsin High School Theatre State Festival website to learn more.

MHS Theatre will hold five separate virtual performances for the 2020-21 season, capped by the musical Cinderella on March 18-21. The first four productions were available for viewing online by audiences indefinitely. Cinderella is a multi-day virtual ticketed performance.

The 2020-21 season is entitled Out of Chaos, recognizing the importance of artistic expression during these challenging times. The season is inspired by a quote from Stephen Sondheim, "Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.''

Visit the MHS Theatre website to learn more.