Taft Students Win In Chicago Youth Theatre Festival

Mia Naples, Reporter

Nine of Taft’s Drama students participated in the Chicago Youth Theatre Festival and three of the high school performers ended up winning in the competition on Saturday, January 16. 

The Chicago Youth Theater Fest is an event where students are advocates and active in the theatre arts; students can partake in theater workshops, allowing them to learn from many professionals about the aspects of theatre. Students also have the opportunity to meet college officials and audition for their theatre programs. Students from different schools compete against each other in different forms of performance, a solo monologue, a solo musical piece, and a two-person scene. 

Senior Bennet Palma and junior Ciera Reilly won for their two person performance of the Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute. For musical theatre, senior Catherine Herrera followed up last year’s 2nd place finish with 1st place this year for her performance of “One Perfect Moment” from the musical Bring it On. Herrera’s performance was named the Most Outstanding Performance of the festival. 

Palma’s and Reilly’s performance was a scene from the play “Mercy Seat,” which is about two people who have an affair and witness the tragedy of 9/11, taking it as an opportunity to escape their personal lives together. 

“I played a character named Ben. He was the male in the scene who tries to convince a woman, Abby, who he has an affair with, to run away with him after 9/11,” said Palma via email. 

“I played the character of Abby, Ben’s mistress, and co-worker. She believes that Ben was going to leave his wife and kids for her,” said Reilly via email. 

Herrera performed the song “One Perfect Moment” from the musical Bring it On playing the character Campbell as her Solo Musical Theatre piece. The musical is about an ambitious and hopeful girl named Campbell who loves cheerleading and wants to win a National high school Cheerleading competition as captain of the squad. She was transferred to a different school by someone hacking into the school system to get her transferred. There she had to learn how to adapt to a new high school environment while also trying to assemble a team to win Nationals. 

“I got to choose which song I wanted to perform so I did have a few options to choose from. One of the songs I considered was one called ‘Pretty Funny’ from Dogfight which resonated a lot with me but the role of Campbell has been one of my dream roles and the song ‘One Perfect Moment’ is my favorite musical song of all time,” said Herrera via email. 

The Chicago Youth Theatre Festival allows students to learn about new colleges in their college fair while also giving students an opportunity to perform in front of an audience.