Brownwood High School’s theatre students have taken little time off following November’s ultra-successful production of the musical “Newsies.”

Thirty-three theatre students competed Nov. 14-17 in the Texas Thespian State Competition in Grapevine, and 29 qualified for national competition in June. The competition will be on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

At the state competition, students competed in group acting, group musical, costume design, costume construction, lighting design, stage management, set design and dance competition.

More than 8,200 students competed, and 654 — including the 29 from Brownwood — qualified for national competition.

Freshman Lilly Lee, the daughter of theatre director Shannon Lee, earned a perfect score in costume design. She won for one of the outfits fellow theatre student Jordan Roberts wore in Roberts’ portrayal of Katherine Plumber. The costume was judged on design, overall construction and originality.

The students will begin raising funds for their trip to the national competition in Nebraska, and one method of fund-raising will be their performance of their Christmas show, “The Grinch.” Students recently began preparing for that show.

The theatre department will also raise funds by performing the show for its One Act Play competition and by hosting a UIL academic tournament. “We also have a booster club which works diligently on our behalf to raise funds as well,” Shannon Lee said.

Lee added, “We have drama fest in May, and that is a culmination of everything that we’ve done throughout the entire year. It will monologues, duet scenes, duet musicals, group musical performances.” 

The students said they can’t really compare the success of “Newsies” with the success at the state competition because they are two different events.

Students chose workshops to attend, and for every time slot available, there were dozens of workshops from which to choose, Lee said.

“You had so many classes,” junior Caitlin Tucker said of the state competition. “I wish I could’ve stayed there for years because those classes were incredible.”

Tucker said she attended several dance classes as well as a “type” class, where she learned what type of characters would suit her better than others.

Senior Hunter McMillian said some of the seniors did actual college auditions. “We went into a room and auditioned in front of 80 some-odd colleges,” McMillian said. “I know my buddy Josh (Lawson) over here got called back to one of the most famous film academies there is.”

McMillian said he received callbacks to several universities.

“Newsies” cast member Hayden McAfee he was able to watch numerous plays. “That’s something I really love to do, is just watch plays” McAfee said. “It was amazing to be able to watch high schoolers. We never actually get to watch our own plays. I never get to see myself on stage. It was just really cool getting to see other high schoolers.”   

Shelby Wilson appreciated being at a venue where “all of those people had the same thing in common, and it was theatre. And so being around people who love the same thing as you do is just so inviting and welcoming.” 

Another “Newsies” cast member, Emily Haynes, said she took a workshop on improv speed dating. “You created a character, and another person created a character, and you were supposed to seed date for two minutes,” Haynes said.

“It was so fun. It was just a really inspiring and learning experience.”