West Orange HS theater students take awards at STANJ competition

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Students in the West Orange High School advanced theater program came away with several awards and recognitions from the Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Thespian Festival.

STANJ is a statewide theater competition for various governor’s awards. This year’s event was held at Montclair State University on Jan. 7. 

Senior Micah Morrison and sophomore Alyssa Nicholson Lewis from drama teacher Wendy Mapes’ master scene study class won second place in Dramatic Acting Pairs/Scenes. Senior Jack Harwood, the treasurer of the Drama Club, placed as a finalist in Contrasting Monologues. Senior Delia Kravits, one of the co-directors of the play “Tracks” in the advanced theater class, won fourth place in Musical Solos. 

“I am very proud of my students for their success, but also for the way in which this group of 50 theater students supported one another by attending their individual events,” Mapes said. “The STANJ theater competition is very tough and prepares students for the challenges of professional theater. Congratulations to everyone who participated!”

Students from advanced theater and the Thespian Society competed at the annual New Jersey Thespian Festival competition, held at Robbinsville High School on Jan. 8. The Thespian Society is a national honors society for theater that is awarded based on a points system for participation in theater as crew members and performers. 

Students competed in the Chapter Select competition, an entirely student-driven production by Mapes’ advanced theater class, and members of the Thespian Society competed in various theatrical categories. Seniors Madison Gough and Kravits directed the 40-minute, one-act play called “Tracks,” by Peter Tarsi, and junior Allyssa Jules stage-managed. The cast included seniors Harwood, Elena Hause, Morgan Lanzot Woodridge, Giancarlo Minervino, Ewan O’Sullivan, Cullen Smith, Rocio Urquia and Lance Zeligson, and juniors Nakhayla Green and Chloe Zucker. 

Lanzot Woodridge, Minervino and Smith won Best Actor awards for their performances in “Tracks.” Lanzot Woodridge also won a Best Thespian Award. Gough won an award for Contrasting Monologues and sKravits won an award for Musical Solo.

“Students in advanced theater have been working on the play ‘Tracks’ since June 2022, when they selected, cast and did a cold read of the show,” Mapes said. “They spent the fall semester rehearsing the play and applying all of the theater skills they acquired to produce the show. Delia and Madison were excellent directors and spent a lot of time working on characterizations, staging and presence. Everyone in the class helped paint the set and assemble costumes. Advanced theater presented the show to friends and families in the Little Theatre on Jan. 6. These students are really dedicated and I am very proud of them.”

Photos Courtesy of WOSD