WACO, TX — University High School theater students are advancing to compete in the regional competition for the first time in Waco ISD history.
This is the first time this high school has advanced. The last theater students who made it to regionals were from Waco High in the 40's and 80's.
It's taken a lot of rehearsing and hard work to get here. The class is performing the One Act Play, The Trestle and Pope Lick Creek, by Naomi Wallace.
"Last year we had the opportunity to advance to the bi-district round but due to COVID-19 we were unable to compete further," student Tyler Mitchell said.
With a pandemic as another barrier, making it this far has proven to be challenging.
When they competed in the bi-district competition again this year, they were chosen as the top two out of six schools.
Mitchell says he's been in theater all four years of high school and sees it as a way to escape when things get tough.
"It gives me an outlet to express myself and leave it all behind for a little while and come be somebody else," Mitchell said.
Performing in masks has been another challenge and to prevent COVID from disqualifying them from the competition, they have an A and B cast to perform if they needed to switch.
Although this class is advancing, Mitchell says it's taken years of work from those who came before them to get them to this moment.
"This work that we've done has been result of years of everybody else's hard work for this group to be able to advance," Mitchell said.
Theater Director Glenn Price has been teaching at University HS for 11 years and in that time he has been working toward this goal.
"It takes 10 years to be the next thing coming and so it's good for us to know that in the last 11 years we have laid the foundation and the foot work," Price said.
He thanks his students for their dedication and the hours of rehearsal they put in to make it this far.
"We have kids who have jobs and other responsibilities and so in this type of year not only are we doing great things but we're doing it with a bang and that's very honorable," Price said.
He also commends WISD for the effort and support they have given to the theater department. It's a place that sometimes can be overlooked.
When you see a play you're likely to just see the characters on stage but it takes a lot to put on a stage production. Between lights, set and sound, there is a whole technical team that help make this show possible.
Mitchell says competing is just the cherry on top because it's the memories that will last a life time.
"It was mostly about we just wanted to tell a story we wanted to make memories, and I love the people that I work with every day because they're so passionate and funny and they make my life brighter," Mitchell said.
They compete on Wednesday in the regional competition and, if they're chosen to move forward, state is next.