Oxford High School theater group head to national competition

Published 8:00 am Monday, March 5, 2018

Oxford High School Theatre will be performing its award-winning competition version of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” on Tuesday to raise funds for the group’s upcoming trip to the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

The theatre group performed the show in its entirety in the fall. Theatre teacher John Davenport said he realized the show was a potential award-winner early on during rehearsals.

“The more the show developed, the more I was convinced we should take it to our festivals,” he said. “It had been three years since we competed, so I thought this would be a great re-starting show.”

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The play, based on the highly acclaimed novel by Mark Haddon, is a unique story told from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy who is on the autistic spectrum.

“I have enjoyed working on this piece,” Davenport said, who has been the theatre teacher at OHS for about 17 years. “It has become very special and possibly the favorite of my career. I am very proud of the work that has been accomplished by everyone.”

The shortened version of the play was produced to take on the road earlier this year where it won the Dominic Cunetto Award for Best Production at the Mississippi Theater Association Competition. The students also took home several other awards including Overall Technical Achievement Award, Best Actor and All-Star Cast.

The school will be performing the award-winning production at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Kayla Mize Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for non-students and $5 for students.

The group will leave Wednesday for the SETC’s Regional High School Theatre Festival in Mobile, Ala. where they will compete with schools from the 10-state region which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The performance Tuesday in Oxford will help fund the trip to the SETC.

“By the time you factor in a four-night stay for everyone, transportation, show royalty costs, transportation of the set costs, and overall registration to the conference, it can get very pricey,” Davenport said. “Thankfully the school district has been very generous to us along this competition journey and has helped us out as much as they can.”

Stage Manager Evelyn Smith said she’s excited about the upcoming competition where she will get to run the show from behind the curtain a third time this school year.

Smith, a senior, has been performing in plays at OHS since she was in middle school. However, she wanted to do something different for her senior year and volunteered to be stage manager for the play.

“I’m usually on stage acting, singing and dancing,” she said. “Working backstage was an area I wasn’t necessarily as familiar with, and I’ve come to have a huge appreciation of what goes on during a show.”

Smith was part of the re-conceptualization of the play to make it short enough to perform at competitions. This week in Alabama, she and her fellow students will be on their own. Davenport will wish them luck and return to his seat in the audience.

“It’s a highly technical show, and it’s a lot of responsibility on my part and the crew,” she said. “But so far in rehearsals, we’ve been pretty seamless.”

To purchase tickets for Tuesday’s special showing of the “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,”  visit https://www.oxfordsd.org/theatre.