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HHS theater students take state honor

Apr. 14, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High School theater students nearly swept the West Virginia Thespian Festival, which took place April 8-10 in Charleston.

The team has been chosen to represent West Virginia at the International Thespian Festival at the University of Nebraska on June 21-26.

"It was probably the most emotional thing in my life," said Cody Verbage, who won best supporting actor. "I've never felt so accomplished. It's great to be a part of a change where theater is a recognizable thing at Huntington High School."

Verbage, who has been accepted to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, said he is excited to showcase his school one more time at the international festival.

But director Helen Freeman does get to keep Elijah Boyles for one more year. The junior won best actor and said it was a moment he'll remember the rest of his life.

"I'm so honored to say I'm the best actor (in the state)," he said.

Both Boyles and Verbage said the whole group has worked so hard throughout the year. And even though everyone has a different personality, they came together under Freeman's direction.

"She won't let us rest for a moment," Verbage said of her leadership.

Freeman, who won the state competition three times with Capital High School in Charleston, said this is probably more special because Capital's program was already built up when she arrived.

"It never happened to me the way it happened at Huntington High," she said. "Here, we took the program from very small to major."

Freeman and her students are asking the community to help out in funding the trip to Nebraska. The state has provided $10,000 toward the trip's expenses, which could be as high as $30,000. The cost is $590 per student and $690 per chaperone. That covers meals and room and board. Airfare and transportation could be as high as $450 per student. And Freeman said they also have to pay to have the props for the show shipped and additional costume rentals.

But she believes the students deserve to go after working so hard and so well together.

"We love each other and love being together," she said of the group.

Complete list of Huntington High School award winners:

Best actor: Elijah Boyles

Best supporting actor: Cody Verbage

All-State cast members: Alli Knight, Elaine Adkins and Bradley Leonard

Best Technical Theatre School

First place, best technical student, Elaine Adkins; third place, best technical student, Sean DeLancey

Top scene: "The Wolf in Grandma's House"

Costume Renderings: First place, Lani Langille; second place, Jacob Jarvis.

Novice Lighting: First place, Daniel Greene.

Advanced Lighting: First place, William Brown.

Character Makeup: First place, Elaine Adkins; honorable mention, Kristin Caviani.

Special effects makeup: Second place, Elaine Adkins; honorable mention, Luke Adkins.

Novice Mask: Second place, Megan Haynes.

Advanced Mask: First place, Cynthia Nicholson.

Advanced Publicity: Honorable mention, Josefine Landgrave.

Hand puppet: First place, Sean DeLancey; second place, Megan Boggs; honorable mention, Krista Ramey.

Marionette: First place, Brian Zepp; second place, Sarena Johnson; honorable mention, Maggie Hiner.

Experimental puppet: First place, Elaine Adkins.

Duet singing: Second place, Elijah Boyles and Tasha Blankenship.