Jennifer Kelly (941) 474-7702 x3144
Box Office: (941) 473-0952
April 28, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Sherie Ragan
Associate Producer, Lemon Bay Theatre
LEMON BAY HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE SELECTED AS ONE OF THE TOP
HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE PROGRAMS INTERNATIONALLY!
It is 5:25 PM on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.
Lemon Bay High School Theatre
students are already exhausted, dripping in sweat, and anxious to perform. In a mere five hours the 48’ semi truck has been unloaded,
every inch of scenery on the 35’ x 40’ stage has been reconstructed, props have been organized, 500 costume pieces have been steamed,
ironed and organized, over 100 wigs rest on their heads in dressing rooms, and the Thespians stretch and vocally warm up with their hair
done in wig curls, their make up half complete. Outside of Ferguson Hall, over one thousand teenage Thespians from around the state of Florida
chant and sing eagerly awaiting the house to open. 6:00 PM. The curtain drops, pre-show music plays in the dimly lit house, and the
students race to their seats. The house is full within 3 minutes. It was evident the seasoned Englewood thespians had their audience in the
palm of their hands as soon as the curtain rose and the audience was greeted by over twenty-five cast members in full 1980s garb and big
outlandish hair doing the running man! The screaming almost overpowered the vocals
of lead singer, Senior Dylan Proffitt, as he sang the opening licks to “It’s Your Wedding Day!” The moment was surreal.
The Lemon Bay High School Theatre students performed their production
of “The Wedding Singer” in November 2008 for
a panel of state judges, and were selected in early January as one of the “Top Eight” to Mainstage at the State Festival.
This is their fourth time winning this honor having taken “Seussical: The Musical” in 2005, a workshop performance of “Swing” in 2006,
and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 2007. The day of reckoning finally arrived this past Saturday, and Lemon Bay performed two back
to back performances of “The Wedding Singer” to roaring crowds. Amidst the adoring teenage fans, were three International judges
secretly watching the 6:00 PM performance, clip boards in hand. The cast and crew went on to finish the 6:00 PM showing with a
standing ovation, took a twenty minute break between shows while another thousands eager Florida Thespians raced to their prime seats,
the stage manager called “Places,” and they did it all over again…no surprise…receiving another standing ovation! The International judges
on the other hand headed home, blown away, and sent their critiques to headquarters. It was unanimous. Lemon Bay High School Theatre
was selected as one of the “Top Seven” high school theatre programs in the world, and invited to perform at the International Thespian
Festival in late June which is held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lemon Bay’s thespians have made such an impression on the
attending judicators that they advised the board to schedule “The Wedding Singer” as the final performance of the festival to set it up
as the big show to end the week, and get all of the 3000+ students in attendance “pumped and excited about attending next year!”
News of the invitation was received midday Tuesday, April 28th. The
deadline to attend the festival- May 1st.
The joy of receiving the coveted invitation quickly faded to hopeless as the students investigated the costs. Each student is responsible
for coming up with $555 a person to cover their registration, room and board just to attend the festival. A virtually impossible feat,
there are 53 kids in the cast and crew making a registration bill of $32,000 due by Friday to cover the students and three chaperones.
That doesn’t cover air fare or production costs to bring the semi truck full of scenery, technicians, professionals, or musicians to perform.
The estimated total cost needed to be raised by mid June would be $75,000. This sum of money is not realistic for a small town to support,
and the reality that it may be impossible for them to attend is a very real possibility without a miracle. Fortunately, the Educational Theatre
Association (EDTA), the governing board for the Thespians International has provided a two week extension for the students to raise their
registration fees, but again, without a miracle or a few very generous donors the students will have to pass on this exciting opportunity.
The cast and crew of “The Wedding Singer” is praying, begging, and asking
for that miracle to happen! The kids are still in a state of shock,
and honored to have been asked. They will hold in their hearts forever the amazing truth that they performed above and beyond the rest
of the world! They will know their hard work, sacrifices, and lofty goals paid off. They will cleave to the memory of how to
achieve greatness because as Robert Collier said, “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”
Lemon Bay High School theatre is under the artistic direction of Jennifer Kelly (Grease, Cats, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Swing!),
choreographer Sarah Baer (And 5,6,7, 8 Dance Studio), Assistant Producer Sherie Ragan (former LBHS Director from 1980-1997),
and Music Director Jaclyn Cushman, and vocal coach Sharon Ponte.
To help the Lemon Bay High School Thespians get to Internationals, donations
can be sent to:
LBHS Theatre Wedding Singer International Fund, 2201 Placida Rd, Englewood, FL 34224.