homepage logo

Challenger Middle thespians earn ‘Best in Room’ awards

By Staff | Feb 14, 2019

The talents of Challenger Middle School thespians were on full display earlier in the month in statewide competition, gaining superior recognition for their gifts.

Three students from the troupe earned “Best In Room” at the 2019 Florida Junior Theatre Festival in Orlando.

A duo of sixth graders, Macy Magas and Rilyn Dick, took home the best duet musical award for their performance of “If Mamma was Married” from the musical “Gypsy,” while eighth grader Jillian Peska won top honors for her make-up design for the musical, “Oliver.”

“All three of these young ladies worked intensely throughout the year on their craft and walked away with the highest honor in the state for their final product,” said Challenger Middle School music director Lindsay Warren.

More than 160 troupes from across the Sunshine State gathered to celebrate their love of the arts in many different formats to be judged for competition.

This year’s theme was “League of Super Thespians,” bringing superheroes to life.

For Challenger, their group is made up of many superheroes under the direction of Megan Leonard and Julie Salamon, who, along with Warren, provide a myriad of educational opportunities for students.

“There are many categories that a student can choose to learn about, grow in, and compete within the thespian troupe,” said Warren. “Not only do students learn how to develop and portray a character on stage, but they also learn how to create costumes, execute make-up design, format and create a scene for a play, and even stage-manage a full musical. It is such a privilege to be a part of this troupe and see students excel in their artistic endeavors.”

These students did not simply have a good showing, they excelled in a room full of many other talented youth competing to showcase their efforts in a role they love-spending countless hours perfecting their craft.

“The duet Macy and Rilyn performed in not only required them to tackle the difficult balance of harmony, but they had to interpret their characters believably and have a clear understanding of the scene,” said Warren. “For two young sixth graders, this is a huge feat making this a more than a considerable accomplishment. Their scene included acting, music, and choreography and the judges stated that they ‘both performed like professional performers.'”

Winning “Best in Room” is a challenging task in itself, but to win it twice is quite the impressive feat.

Peska also won “Best in Room” two years ago for make-up design and took home top honors once again this year.

“For make-up design, Jillian had to study the script for Oliver and not only create her make-up design, she had to draw, color, and defend her decisions in front of a panel of judges,” Warren said. “It was required that she base her design on the period of the play as well as choose the brand of make-up, shading choices, lighting, and how the make-up depicted the character. Jillian’s hard work and preparation is the reason she won against every other competitor in the state of Florida.”

All three young ladies participated in the closing ceremonies of the festival, appearing in front of approximately 5,000 of their fellow students, teachers and leaders in the theater community.

“Challenger Middle School is overjoyed about the accomplishments of all of our young thespians,” said Warren. “We have watched them learn and grow throughout the year into skilled young performers who have incredibly bright futures ahead. We could not be more delighted to have them as a part of our Challenger family.”

Coming up at the end of April, Challenger Middle School will be putting on their rendition of “High School Musical Jr.” with a cast of 40 who are eager to perform.

Challenger Middle has many acting and musically driven opportunities for students.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj