Special to the Journal
LEESBURG - Lee County High School’s Theatre Arts Program has been honored with an invitation to perform their recent production of Around the World in 80 Days at the upcoming Georgia Thespian Conference in Columbus. The group has been tapped to open the annual conference on Thursday, February 6th, with two, back-to-back performances in the historic Springer Opera House, the State Theatre of Georgia. The Lee County group will perform twice to accommodate as many of the more than 4000 high school theatre students who attend the conference each year.
Lee County first stage the show in November for entry in the region high school theatre competition. LCHS players Hunter Fallin and Turner Hitt were named to the All-Star Region Cast for their outstanding performances in that competition. Davis Cowart, a Lee County senior, was named Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Phileas Fogg’s trusty right-hand man, the Frenchman, Passepourtou. Nicolette Mantica, an LCHS junior who plays more than ten roles in the production, was recognized for her skill and talent and named Best Actress in the Region. The performance was honored with a special award for technical execution—recognition of the level of professionalism and expertise in the production’s use of the technical elements of sound, lights and sets, as well as the students’ skills in performing the technical aspects of the very complicated production.
The show is a new comedy-adventure by Mark Brown, and not only does it tell the tale from Jules Verne’s classic novel of the unflappable Phileas Fogg and his companions racing the calendar and the clock to win that famed wager, but it does so with six actors playing more than twenty roles!
“Being invited to open this year’s conference is a spectacular honor for our program and for these students,” says director Dotty Davis. “The show is a real tour-de-force of skill and commitment for both the actors and the technicians. I’m thrilled that the state’s Thespians have recognized our accomplishment.”
The cast is made up mostly of seniors: Zac Crew as Fogg, Davis Cowart featured as Fogg’s trusty aide Passepartout, Hunter Fallin featured as the ever-pursuing Detective Fix, Turner Hitt featured as Sir Francis Cromarty, and Courtney Shirley featured as the India princess Aouda. Nicolette Mantica, a junior, plays a dozen or more characters in the production. In fact, most of the actors play more than one character, sometimes transitioning from one character to the next without even leaving the stage. Along with the host of characters, audiences get treated to an array of transportation modes, including lots of trains and ships—and even an Indian elephant!
The Lee County troupe has scheduled two local performances prior to their departure for the Thespian Conference. Local audiences can see Around the World in 80 Days again or for the first time on Sunday, February 2nd at 3:00 p.m. or on Monday, February 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in the school’s Robert A. Clay Auditorium. Tickets for these encore performances are $7 for adults and $5 for students and children. Proceeds from these performances will help fund the group’s trip to perform at the state Thespian Conference.