For the first time since 2006, the St. Michael-Albertville One Act cast performed in the Minnesota State One Act Festival last Friday at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Only the top eight out of 96 schools competing in Class AA One Act competition are invited to compete at the State Festival.
STMA’s One Act cast performed the Roald Dahl classic, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. On their way to state-level competition, the team first won first place in their initial level of competition at Monticello High School on January 26, followed by another first place finish at the subsection competition. Section finals took place Feb. 2 at STMA High School, where they once again took first place and earned a performance time at the state festival.
“STMA’s production of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a representation of true team effort,” said one of the team’s two directors, Joey Siemieniak. “Everyone in the audience will love something different about this play, whether it be the 8-bit/Minecraft graphics, the detailed animal makeup, or even the band playing live music and sound effects throughout the show. This one act is truly a fantastic show for all ages.”
Siemieniak said the One Act production is 100 percent student-run. Students Emma Erickson and Sam Brown created all of the 8-bit videos used in the production frame-by-frame. All props have been made by hand from glue, foam and paint. Students perform the bluegrass and folk music that ties the production together, and they also do all the detailed make-up for the show after being trained by The Costume Shoppe out of Maple Lake.
One Act is a competitive theater program that is judged based on a number of criteria. Performances must not exceed 35 minutes, the entire set must be stored in a 10’x10’ space when stored, and the set must be assembled within 10 minutes on competition day. Any infractions to these rules disqualifies a team.
STMA Activities Director, Keith Cornell, said last Friday was his third time seeing the show in its entirety, and he thought it was their best performance of the year, a sentiment he believes the cast and crew shared as well.
“It was a great experience for our One Act play members,” Cornell said. “As a district, we are incredibly proud of the cast and directors.”
Siemieniak said that a fan bus with 30 STMA students attended the State Festival to cheer on their team. State Festival judges don’t give exact placements, only “starred performances” for particularly outstanding shows. Judges consult with one another after a performance and then openly critique the show in front of the cast, crew and audience. Starred performances are determined by judges through a private ballot. Siemieniak said that STMA did not receive a starred performance, but said they were proud to be one of the top eight teams in the state.