East High Choral Reading wins 2018 All-State Critics Choice Award
East High School made headlines on Saturday with “banner” performances at the Iowa All-State Large Group Speech Festival held at Iowa State University. East High’s choral reading entry, “Mind Your Manners,” brought home a banner for being Critic’s Choice, marking the ninth time thespians at East have given the state’s top performance in a respective category. “Mind Your Manners,” interestingly, earned the 2014 Critic’s Choice award for East as well.
“All of those kids from 2014 have graduated,” said Wendy Bryce, the East High School head coach who wrote, cast and directed this choral reading entry. “We took this script and the kids this year added their own spin to it.”
In doing so, East became the best of the best, a field that began the season with some 200 choral reading entries that performed in District competition.
Bryce said she felt earning the banner might be a possibility after viewing a near-flawless show by her students. One highlight included a vignette when Juan Gomez soared in a take on “The Phantom of the Opera.” Following his brief singing solo, Gomez stopped and just stared a bit into the audience in a bit of a drop-the-mic moment that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The critic walked to the stage and bowed down before the East High thespians after the show, saying, “You just watched a Broadway production of…whatever this is called!”
Those performing in the skit, which was co-directed by Bryce, her husband, Risty Bryce, and assistant director Hannah Marshall included: Anthony Anderson, Gabe Ruiz, Juan Gomez, Nathan Kitrell, Cameron Jensen, Parker Wolf, Bronwyn Eastlick, Brittany Todd, Denise Camarena, Malea Hanson, Nichole Evans, Liz Senstad, Ariel Kern, Avery Poole and Alley Self.
The 2018 effort marked the 10th straight year East High has been one of 20 high schools to perform in choral reading on the All-State level, a run that began with a skit written and directed by Shelley Molland, whose choral reading expertise showed in a 2004 banner earned by East. Bryce has directed the last nine choral reading entries at East, including this one, the third banner-winning choral reading effort at the school.
by Tim Gallagher