Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Palm Harbor drama students win statewide honors, prepare for regional contest

PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University High School drama students performed the play Wiley and the Hairy Man at the Florida Theatre Conference just for practice, really.

They thought the experience, as well as the critiques of the judges, would help prepare them for the Pinellas County School District theater festival, where they would perform the same play.

So they were shocked to learn later that they had garnered top honors at the statewide festival.

"I honestly didn't believe it, I thought they were pranking me," senior Vanessa Lopez said. "We came back (home) before the closing ceremony — we didn't find out when everybody else did. We were astonished about the award."

"I didn't even know there was a winner," said sophomore Tim Hart. "Winning that Florida conference was a big boost to our morale."

Because of their win, the Palm Harbor students will represent Florida next month at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"It's quite prestigious to be one of the best schools in Florida — to be invited to go to the Southeastern Conference," said Graham Howard, Palm Harbor University High's drama teacher.

The conference will feature workshops for students and teachers, as well as auditions for theater programs in many universities, he said. It's a big break for the students.

"I couldn't be prouder," Howard said.

Meanwhile, the students continue to fine-tune the production. Lopez, Hart and the cast and crew staged Wiley and the Hairy Man again at the Pinellas district's One-Act competition, where it was named one of the top three performances. That means they will be representing Pinellas again in another statewide competition, right after Chattanooga in March, Hart said.

Wiley and the Hairy Man by Susan Zeder is a story about fear and overcoming it, and is geared to young audiences. The play revolves around a 10-year-old fatherless boy, Wiley (played by Darcy Forest), who lives in a swamp with his Mammy (Amanda Springer) and Dog (Vanessa Lopez). He's afraid of many things but especially the Hairy Man (Tim Hart), a "conjure man" who killed Wiley's dad. Other students perform in the chorus, which creates an undulating, living swamp.

The students recently staged a dinner performance to raise money for their trip to Tennessee.

After several runs, Hart feels good about the show.

"It's an absolutely amazing performance, and I cannot believe how far we have come," he said.

Palm Harbor drama students win statewide honors, prepare for regional contest 02/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.