Baldwin High School hosted the 2014 Georgia Thespians All-State Show boot camp July 20-24.
More than 30 students worked on the production “In the Heights” to be performed Feb. 6 and 7 at the Georgia Thespians Conference held in Columbus. Baldwin’s Fine Arts facilities will also welcome the troupe back for future rehearsals through next January as the drama students perfect the piece.
“In the Heights” is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The story, based in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, follows a young storeowner as he watches the joys and heartbreaks of his tight-knit community passing through his bodega.
The show includes family themes and love stories. Incoming Baldwin senior and president of the school’s Thespian Troupe Mary Helen Higgs was honored to be selected out of hundreds auditioning for the All-State production back in February.
The Baldwin senior said anyone could relate to a certain song within the show.
“It’s a community show,” Higgs said. “Everyone can find their place in the show whether or not you’ve seen it.”
High school students lucky enough to make the production troupe are the most elite singers, dancers and actors Georgia has to offer.
The performers, adult instructors and technicians are the “best in their field,” according to BHS Choral Director Kathy Carroll.
The performers learn all the songs and dances for the entire musical in five boot camp days.
Carroll said the teachers cherish time working with passionate students.
“These kids eat, breathe and sleep theater. They are perfect during practice. We never have to tell them to be quite or focus. They are totally into it,” Carroll said. “None of us get paid. We do it all for free because it’s such a joy.”
Higgs likes seeing how other guest troupes work. Everyone was prepped for this musical training, so wasting time isn’t an option.
“In four days we’ve finished all of our group numbers and music. To have all that done in five days is mind blowing,” the Baldwin thespian said.
Carroll dropped to assistant musical director for the show this year after nine years at the helm. The 35-year performing arts education veteran handed music and artistic control off to family.
Carroll’s daughter Jennifer Morris teaches drama at Putnam County High School and is the show director. Son and Washington County High School teacher Trey Carroll serves as the All-State music director.
Middle Georgia is also represented by Georgia Military College’s Mark Weaver helping as technical director. The “In the Heights” sets are as big as houses.
The musical sponsored by Rogers & Hammerstein is reserved strictly for a crowd of 5,000 at the thespian conference next year.
“They asked us to do this show for the convention therefore we cannot do public performances of it,” Carroll said.
The All-State team has a knack for big-time musicals. The Baldwin chorus director is proud of all involved.
“It’s an elite team. They continue to ask us to do it year after year because nobody can do it as well as we can. We are the highlight of the entire convention,” she said.
The Baldwin Fine Arts Center is widely recognized as one of the finest theater facilities in the state. The stage, lighting and sound here allow a proper All-State practice venue.
Carroll said Baldwin’s stage is similar to Columbus’s professional center hosting the state conference
Higgs loves showing off BHS. Artistic visitors noticed the quality day one.
Being recognized as a thespian hub puts Baldwin High on a wonderful performing arts map.
“They said we have one of the best facilities they have ever been to,” Higgs said. “It’s nice to give it to other people.”
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