Pinelands Regional Actors Score Big In State Theater Competitions

Mar 20, 2019
File Photo by: Jack Reynolds Pinelands recent performance of ‘How to Succeed in Business.’

Pinelands Regional School District thespians sure had themselves a great winter despite not having a theater of their own for a second year as construction on the district’s high school building continues.

Their production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at the Stafford Township Arts Center was well received by the public. And they practically had to rent an 18-wheeler to haul all of the trophies they took home from two of the state’s preeminent high school theater contests, the Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey’s Governor’s Awards in Arts competition at Montclair State University and the New Jersey Thespian Festival at Robbinsville High School.

Seniors Ethan DiFrancia and Anthony Scarpone led the Pinelands charge. The duo took first in the Comedic Pairs category at the STANJ competition, earning a prestigious Governor’s Award – they’ll be picking up their medals at a May 14 ceremony in Trenton. Then they proved their STANJ win was no fluke when they finished first in the same category at the Thespian Festival.

Other first-place STANJ finishers include junior Victoria Jackson, who took home the honors in the Stage Manager competition, and freshman Madison Romano, who won the Pantomime Solo category. Pinelands students also proved they can work as a group, with seniors DiFrancia, Luke Mathis, Brian Rood, Scarpone and John Thornton, juniors Charles Blight, Rachel Eng, Rachel Germain, Matthew Johnson, Fiona McGettigan, Hannah Rommel and Gina VanOrden, and sophomores JamiLyn Hawkins, Ryan Sanzari, Lily Targett, Nadia Jewel Vito and Elizabeth Yu teaming up to win the Musical Theatre Ensemble competition.

Pinelands shone in the comedy categories at the STANJ event. Sophomore Jon Levy teamed with the aforementioned Mathis to take third in Comedic Pairs while junior Amanda Delbury and Thornton were finalists in that same category. Scarpone finished fifth in the Comedic Monologue competition while Johnson and Thornton both emerged as finalists.

Pinelands wasn’t chopped liver in the Improv Pairs category, either. Johnson teamed up with the ever-present Scarpone to take third while sophomore Jordyn Barr paired with Yu to take fifth.

Time to turn to drama. Thornton was a finalist in the Dramatic Monologue contest while Levy and Yu and Delbury and Thornton were finalists in the Dramatic Pairs competition.

Many of the Pinelands actors were serious contenders in the N.J. Thespian Festival as well.

Pinelands won the Musical Theatre Ensemble competition, thanks to the efforts of seniors DiFrancia, Mathis, Scarpone, Rood and Thornton, juniors Blight, Eng, Germain, Johnson, McGettigan, Rommel and VanOrden and sophomores Hawkins, Targett, Vito, Yu and Sanzari.

Scarpone finished fifth in the Comedic Monologue competition while Johnson and Thornton were finalists.

Levy and Mathis matched their STANJ performance, finishing third in Comedic Pairs while Delbury and Thornton were finalists in that category.

Improv proved to be another category where Pinelands was tough. Johnson and Scarpone took third in Improv Pairs; Barr and Yu were fifth.

Thornton also played heavily in the drama competition. He was a finalist in Dramatic Monologue and paired with Delbury to be a finalist in Dramatic Pairs. The duo of Levy and Yu was also a finalist in the same category.

Trophies and medals are nice, but, to quote The Beatles, “You’re lovin’ gives me a thrill but your lovin’ don’t pay my bills, now give me money, that’s what I want.” Well, Scarpone took home well-deserved senior scholarships from both events. —R.M.

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