By Kellie Finch
Congratulations to all of our 2023 Scholastic A class finalists! Review their productions below in order of Finals placement.
In measuring the success of Irondale Combined Schools, it is clear to see their deserving position in PSA finals. Their show, entitled “Made to Measure,” took place in a colorful craft room come to life. Sewing machines lined desks, while fabrics of every color imaginable were used as props, often being utilized by dancers in intricate choreography. The show evolved further with giant scissor props and lights flickering to the rhythm of the music. The electric performance by the pit and the features from each section of the battery brought the show’s theme to life, ending with colorful strings thrown across the floor.
3…2…1…Liftoff. Beavercreek HS shot for the heavens with their production, entitled “Reach for the Stardust” – and made it into the constellations. Featuring Davie Bowie favorites like “Space Oddity” and “Under Pressure,” this space-themed performance had it all. Combining the battery’s asteroid-like power with the pit’s star-like twinkling melodies, the ensemble never came back down to Earth. Isolations of silence were scattered throughout the show, allowing the audience to keep up with the excitement, never wanting the stargazing experience to end.
Vandebuilt Catholic HS
Vandebilt Catholic HS proved that even when words cannot be found, it is still more than possible to make the audience feel any and all emotions. In their show, “The Unsaid,” it was the power of silence, rather than sound, that made their performance stand out. “Say Something” by A Great Big World played as the featured dancer ran around the floor, often seen covering her ears and being shushed by other members of the ensemble. The show ended with the dancer jumping behind the panels at the back of the floor, with the word “UNSAID” spread across them.
What began as a simple trip back in time to ancient Egypt with Noblesville HS turned into an exploration of so much more. In their production, entitled “Unraveled,” performers dove into different genres in musical history, such as blues and rock and roll. After the heart of the tomb was discovered, the performers’ mummy exteriors began to unravel, revealing a colorful underneath and a spunky, upbeat transition into “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles. Performers then sang in unison and celebrated a happy, exciting ending to their version of history.
Hempfield HS told the story of a science experiment gone wrong in their production, entitled “51.” Scientists in a laboratory, portrayed by the pit, set the scene before they were interrupted by a crash landing outside. Aliens, in the form of the battery, exited their ship and were immediately captured by the scientists and forced into test tubes to be experimented on. This didn’t last long as the aliens escaped, determined to wreak havoc on the scientists that captured them, killing off the scientists and stealing their instruments. The excitement and power of the battery showed through as the aliens took one final scientist and sent them home in the alien ship, locking them in.
Longmont Combined Schools
Longmont Combined Schools introduced the UD audience to an intricate game of “Hide and Speak” in their production, teaching the lesson of letting your voice be heard, and not being afraid to speak. The show began in black and white as performers peeked out from behind props, brought to life with an exquisite guitar solo. A vocalist spoke out, asking “What the hell is going on?” as color took to the floor, fabrics of varying hues across each performer’s instrument and on their person as well. As color was added, the ensemble gained more energy and excitement, finishing by reiterating the lesson to never let your voice be the thing that gets hidden in the game of “Hide and Speak.”
Oak Grove HS (MS)
While at first, it seemed like we would be reliving one of our favorite parts of childhood with Oak Grove HS’s show, entitled “Recess,” it quickly became the opposite – as a lighthearted performance about childhood joy instead became a sad story about bullying. A “Kick Me” sign was placed on the back of the lead performer, her sadness evident that no one wanted to play with her as she played a version of “All By Myself” by Celine Dion on the violin. After her performance, the rest of the ensemble cheered for her, and all was well – allowing the audience to enjoy the rest of the performance without any worry. Bass drums played on the seesaw, quads spun on the merry-go-round, and snares swung on the swings, producing a playful, happy ending to a sad story.
In their UD Arena finals performance, Everett HS conquered the conflicting theme of balance. A large scale at the back of the floor held a heart on one side and a feather on the other, as symbols for nobility versus selfishness in the making of life’s decisions. Performers grappled with the inevitable strife that comes with life, learning quickly that it is incredibly easy to be consumed by darkness. The battery and pit worked together to overcome the negativity that comes with life’s experiences, using Sam Smith’s “Unholy” to demonstrate this process. By the end of the show, performers and audience alike had learned that it’s often our heart that is found “Hanging in the Balance.”
Gulf Breeze HS
If you ever sat outside at night as a child, seeking out how many fireflies you could catch in a jar, you had a chance to relive that nostalgia with Gulf Breeze HS. Their production, entitled “Glow,” portrayed the childlike innocence of the simple joys of life, shining both literal and figurative lights into the lives of the audience at UD Arena. The pit excelled in representing the twinkling of the fireflies’ glow, while the power of the battery reflected the chase – the desperation of trying to gather as many fireflies as you could before being told to go inside. “Fireflies” by Owl City acted as a soundtrack for the climax of the performance, highlighting the smiles upon all performers’ faces as one final firefly was captured, running into the jar at the front of the floor.
Oak Ridge HS
If you expected to take a pleasant stroll through the woods, that wasn’t the outcome you received on an outing with Oak Ridge HS. In their show, “When The Forest Calls,” the pit set the scene, a mysterious night deep in the unknowns of the trees. Performers used blue ribbons on trees to mark their path, providing a sense of safety in the scariness of the nighttime. One tree, in particular, sat in a corner of the floor and called upon a few members of the ensemble, who quickly regretted their decision to answer. As it turns out, when the forest calls, bad things happen – as the performers became the forest, sporting tree masks and headpieces, never to escape. Thankfully for them, this haunted tale had a happy ending, as one soloist managed to remove her mask and place it on the tree, reversing the curse.
Warren Central HS
If you were walking past UD Arena at night and heard screams, no need to worry. It was only Warren Central HS, performing their show, entitled WARD 27. Setting the scene in a mental institution, performers explored the effects being in a psychiatric ward has on someone’s mental state. Acting skills were at their highest as members of the ensemble screamed, covered their ears, and acted slightly mischievous at times for contrast. The pit provided an eerie soundtrack to the battery’s intensity, ending with an impactful lesson on the importance of good mental health.
“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John was the source of inspiration for Unionville HS’s production, entitled “Hold Me Closer.” Made distinct by the performers’ stark white uniforms on a colorful, paint-splattered tarp, the show explored the love story between two soloists – a piano player and a girl with a pink umbrella. Emotions shifted constantly throughout the show, but always resolved back with love as a prominent theme, shown most evidently by the featured performers. The battery portrayed the passion of the duo’s love story, while the pit created the intimacy and shyness of their first meeting. The show concluded with the two at the piano, the dancer wearing the pianist’s hat and glasses, and the pianist holding the dancer’s special pink umbrella.
North Forsyth HS
North Forsyth HS introduced the UD audience to the intricacies of M.C. Escher’s mathematically-inspired artwork through their production entitled “Relatively Escher.” Geometric shapes scattered the floor and props as performers danced around, using a pencil as a prop to “draw” and spin as the inspiration flourished. Complex melodies from the pit modeled the details of Escher’s designs, while the battery pushed forward the emotion and power of the design process. Performers connected with one another as snares drummed on each other’s instruments, learning that the sky is truly the limit when it comes to music and art.
Plainfield Combined Schools
Passages intended to be played in a repetitious fashion – also known as “Moto Perpetuo” – describes the beauty that can be found by watching Plainfield Combined School’s production. As the group set up for their show, two quad players slowly approached one another, eventually crossing paths, their footsteps backed by delicate pit melodies. Repetition could be found throughout the entire performance, from duplicated phrases to similar motions in drill – but by no means did that mean the audience got bored watching. Rather, the emoting, flowy arm choreography, and building in power from the battery left the audience wanting more. The performance concluded the same way it began: “WGI Sport of the Arts is proud to present…”
Elk River Combined Schools
Elk River Combined Schools brought the energy (and static electricity) into UD Arena with their show, “POP!”. Color covered every inch of the tarp and performers’ uniforms, including props with different people’s faces on them, signifying how people are a beautiful form of artwork. The entire performance taught audience members to share their art with the world, and that art doesn’t have to be conventional. Performers’ happy, smiling faces and energy throughout the show really helped to sell the theme, finishing off the group’s time in UD Arena by popping a red balloon at the center of the floor and ending with a bang.