Thespians in state spotlight

A passion for theatre paves the path to state awards and future career goals for West Nassau High School students.

Thirteen theatre students qualified for the state competition March 14-17 in Tampa. Trey Park and Paige Wilsey attended scholarship auditions for behind-the-scenes roles.

Wilsey desires control and stays organized as WNHS’ stage manager. She presented her prompt book at her auditions with college representatives in attendance at the competition, receiving positive feedback.

“Everything I need to run the show is in it,” she said. “The main lady said for mine it was very well-written and she could tell I had a lot of passion for it.”

The junior plans to apply to colleges in the fall with the hope of pursuing her theatre dream.

“I like being able to oversee everything and being able to help others,” Wilsey said. “I also have a love for the acting and the singing.”

Park likes to bring the story’s setting to life around the actors. He dreams of becoming a set designer and presented a 3-D model of his design for the students’ recent production of Jazz Cabaret (Midnight Manifestation), which the students created. Park now works on the design for the students’ last major production, “Nine to Five,” which will be performed May 16-19 at WNHS. Students will also perform 30-minute one-act plays prior to the final performance.

Park left the state competition with an interest in the University of Memphis. The school has four 3-D printers and three laser printers.

“So basically we could build anything,” Park said.

“With a 3-D printer, you can actually see what it’ll look like,” Wilsey explained.

Park plans to keep the set for “Nine to Five” fairly simple with a few special attributes to tie everything together. It’s his first year of set design, but he’s happy to have a home at WNHS.

“Theatre itself drew me in because I don’t have a place I feel welcome otherwise,” the junior said. “I’m not an athlete, a brainiac or anything. This is the only place that would accept me. It’s my home.”

The students said a common misconception is that theatre students are nerds or misfits.

“In reality, we’re not misfits when we’re all together,” Wilsey said. “When we’re together, we’re the truest group we can be.”

During the state competition, seniors Cameron Smithgall, Makayla Royal, Danielle Lowey, Jay Kupfer and Michelle Hamilton and juniors Wilsey, Park and Nathaniel Trinidad received more than 30 combined callback college interviews. 

Emily Ford and Elizabeth Goodno earned critics’ choice and state champions for their duet acting scene. Trinidad and Natalie Drake received superiors and Ford, Smithgall and Royal earned excellent ratings on their solo pieces.

Goodno, Drake, Ford and Trinidad qualified for the national competition in Nebraska this summer.

Josh McKinney teaches the students in various levels of acting as well as a theatre tech class.

As William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

McKinney quoted the phrase, adding, “There’s the idea that theatre does not have a place inside people’s natural world, but the fundamentals of theatre are about communication.

“We need things like arts where we have to look at people and communicate with people.”

He added that social media takes away one-on-one interpersonal communication, with a “cell phones over people” generation.

“I have subject matter that embraces the differences in people and enables them to express themselves in their own way,” McKinney said.

He encourages his students to ask themselves, “What is intrinsic self-worth and how do I demand it from the world around me?” They then apply their answer to their acting as well as their lives in general. 

He aims for the students to be inspired while also inspiring others with their talent onstage and behind the scenes.

Nassau County Record

Nassau County Record
P.O. Box 609
Callahan, FL 32011

Physical Address
617317 Brandies Avenue
Callahan, FL 32011

Phone: (904) 879-2727
Fax: (904) 879-5155