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Stafford troupe earns top honors
Stafford High cast takes first place out of 19 other drama departments at the Southeastern Theatre Conference's annual competition in Chattanooga, Tenn.

 The win was a first for a Stafford school in the history of the Theatre Conference.
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Date published: 3/25/2012


Drama teacher Michael D'Addario doesn't throw anything away.

And his students at Stafford High are probably thanking him right now. D'Addario held on to a rather obscure script for more than 20 years, digging it out last summer to show them.

They were so intrigued by "A Fable" that they decided to perform it in this year's theater competitions.

And that script helped the ensemble beat 19 other drama departments to take first place at the Southeastern Theatre Conference's annual competition in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The play is not well-known outside of acting circles, D'Addario said. And it requires a level of poise and acting that most casts can't pull off.

But his students held firm, and D'Addario had faith in them.

They took the play to the Virginia Theatre Association Secondary School Theatre Festival in Reston. Stafford High came in second, out of 40 schools.

The top two schools from 10 states continue to compete at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Tennessee. The students had to raise $16,000 to pay for the trip.

Twenty Stafford High students traveled to Chattanooga earlier this month. They included eight cast members, four musicians and eight crew members.

While there, students auditioned for college drama programs and participated in workshops.

But the highlight, D'Addario said, was performing "A Fable" in the historic Tivoli Theatre.

The play, written by Jean-Claude van Itallie, follows a girl who leaves her fishing village in pursuit of a beast.

"It requires finesse," D'Addario said. "If it's not executed well, it's going to look really bad. The actors have to use little more than their bodies and simple props to tell complicated stories."

And the conference judges loved the final production, giving Stafford students rave reviews.

Erin Lottes was named to the All-Star Cast, and the play also received a special judges award for Outstanding Musicians for Josh Elmore, Olivia Haynes, Xaviar Jenerette and Jessica Schue.

But the students didn't have time to rest on their laurels.

Immediately upon returning to Stafford, they had to begin work on the drama department's next offering, "Alice in Wonderland," which will be performed in mid-April.

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973
Email: aumble@freelancestar.com

The award-winning Stafford High drama department is preparing for its next production.

WHAT: Alice in Wonderland WHERE: Stafford High School WHEN: April 19 and 20, 7 p.m. and April 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. COST: $4 for children and students; $6 for adults