While not quite an Oscar or a Tony, young Hoboken actors and actresses lit up the stage at the New Jersey Thespians Competition last weekend; clutching first place awards for Best Play, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
A play about a mystical town called “Almost, Maine” based on the work of John Cariana, propelled the Hoboken High School Drama Club to win the competition, which means the school will now represent the state at the 2016 Thespians Festival this June in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“It’s amazing, as it’s nice to see something that you envisioned since reading the play in August come full circle,” said Danielle Miller, the drama club director and Hoboken High School Teacher of the Year. “When I read this play and thought of the students I had to work with, I knew it had the potential to be great. I am very proud of the hard work that has been put in.”
Over 850 students and roughly 40 high schools vied for top spots at the competition.
“My favorite part of acting is the thrill right before going on stage…you get this adrenaline rush.” – Brandon Lyons
“Almost, Maine,” which Miller produced in conjunction with her Theatre II class, consists of 10 actors and backstage crew members. Isiah Watson, Angel Molina, and Arturo Liranzo ran sound cues and lighting. In addition to Colon and Lyons, the cast featured Te’ Janea Bradley-Johnson, Aliyah Ramos, Hannah Mack, Ivelisse Lorenzo, Andrew Moya, Aishah Tapia, Gina Rotondi, and David Rivera.
During the show, Miller could not lend a hand to the crew as the play had to be entirely student-run.
Last year, Hoboken High School ended up in second place at the state contest after performing “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” by Nora and Delia Ephron.
This year the school is on a mission to return for first place.
“We’re back and our goal is to take it all!” said Miller, who has taught at the school for six years and says this is her first time taking the students to the national festival.
Britney Colon, 17, who won for Best Supporting Actress, says she’s not ready to give up the stage.
The Broadway aspirant recently prospered at auditions for Rowan University’s musical theatre program where is plans to go for college.
She has starred in multiple roles; most recently as Fiona in “Shrek” and Crystal in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“At first I didn’t want to be on stage and it’s crazy to think how this journey has gone for me,” said Colon, who will play Mrs. Potts in the school’s upcoming May production of “Beauty and the Beast.” “But now I can see this really is the path I aspire to go on.”
Lyons, 16, still considers theatre a hobby.
“My favorite part of acting is the thrill right before going on stage…you get this adrenaline rush,” said Lyons, a sophomore who won for Best Supporting Actor at the Thespians. “I especially enjoy playing angry people like Walter from ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ That’s not really me which is why I think I like it so much.”
Miller says she is sad to see seniors like Colon go.
“It’s heartbreaking…We are a family,” she said. “It has been so amazing to watch them grow up into young adults. While I am excited for them to spread their wings and share their greatness with the world, a huge piece of our program will be missing next year. We always have more students coming up though. It is the cycle we as educators endure as our seniors graduate.”
At the competition, Hoboken High School also received all perfect scores in the following categories: Dramatic Monologue (Aishah Tapia), Comedic Monologue (Gina Rotondi), (Dramatic Monologue) Lyons, (Dramatic Monologue) Colon, (Dramatic Monologue) Hannah Mack, and Johnson Dramatic Pairs Scene (Lyons & Te Janea Bradley).
Steven Rodas can be reached at email@example.com.