A wave rippled through the home bleachers during halftime of GMC Prep’s playoff football game Saturday night.
From fan to fan, word spread that the school’s one act play team, which competed earlier that day in Warner Robins, had been crowned GHSA Class A-Public state champions.
Some performers stayed behind inside the Warner Robins High School theatre to hear the announcement live, but cast and crew members who are also cheerleaders or in the band returned to Milledgeville early to attend the football game. They or their parents watched the livestreamed announcement, and a small celebration broke out once GMC’s name was called as state champ.
Whether they stayed behind or heard it on the Davenport Field sideline, the 68 students — 57 cast and eight crew — involved are state champs no matter what. They wowed judges with their show, “Bullets Over Broadway,” earning GMC Prep its fifth one act state title since 2013 following an eighth region championship won a couple weeks ago.
The win ended what was a mini-drought by GMC standards. Region and state acclaim have become the norm for the school’s fine arts department over the last decade, but GMC has finished as state runner-up the last two times the one act competition was held. For those part of the program, it feels as though all is right with the world again. Lake Oconee Academy of Greensboro, who had won the last two state titles, finished in second behind GMC.
“The kids were hungry to get back on top,” GMC Prep Fine Arts Director Mark Weaver said. “Their work ethic and drive this season were awe-inspiring. They knew what they wanted to do and the result they wanted to achieve. When they performed Saturday they left no doubt in anyone's mind what that result would be — another state championship.”
Weaver co-directed the show along with GMC musical theatre teacher, Jenny Morris.
In addition to the overall award, the GMC fine arts production brought home a few individual accolades as well. Cheyanne Dixon was named Best Actress in Class A-Public while Ryland Britt and Josey Maddox each earned All-Star Cast recognition.
Like many other previous GMC Prep one act submissions, “Bullets Over Broadway” was a film before being adapted into a stage musical. Morris said there are several boxes she and Weaver try to check off in choosing a show each year, and “Bullets…” seemed like a perfect fit.
“It's an off-beat comedy that has rarely, if ever, been performed as a one act play,” said Morris. “It has zany characters that give students an opportunity to show off strong acting skills and it has a musical score that will engage an audience. We have large casts and this show also allowed us to feature many students in many fun roles.”
Written by renowned filmmaker Woody Allen, the musical version of “Bullets Over Broadway” features jazz standards that were popular between World War I and about 1930. The GMC Prep thespians not only nailed those numbers, but also another very important aspect of the show.
“The material is harder than most of the shows we have competed with in the past,” Weaver said. “Woody Allen’s style of comedy is both subtle and over the top at the same time. Getting the comic timing correct for each scene meant many hours in acting rehearsals refining the comedic moments so that they not only made sense, but felt natural being performed by a high school actor.”
It’s that attention to detail that landed GMC Prep back on top for the first time since 2018.
Since the GHSA separated one act play competitions from literary in 2000, only four schools in the entire state — Northside-Warner Robins, Greater Atlanta Christian, Buford and Columbus — have more one act state championships than GMC. Just one school, Class A-Private Lakeview Academy, has more one act state titles since GMC won its first in 2013.