Road to Nationals: Thescon

thesecon“Thescon… is being surrounded by thousands of people, every one of which you have something in common with. It’s incredible, because everyone there is a friend.” – Grace Jones, Blessed Trinity junior

Thescon, an annual theater arts competition, is an excellent opportunity for Blessed Trinity students to showcase their talents in fine arts. Last year, three out of BT’s four Individual Events (IEs) received superior ratings on their performances, qualifying them for the National Thespian Conference in June. This year, three more IEs qualified.

“We had three Superiors out of four,” said Mr. Allan Dodson, Blessed Trinity’s theater department head. “That kind of performance is practically unheard of. They all performed very well, and I was extremely proud of them.”

Aline O’Neill, a BT junior, earned a nearly perfect score, only one point away from perfection. “My goal, every time I perform, is to deliver the best performance I possibly can, and to move and engage the audience,” Aline explained. “My score was just icing on the cake. I was completely shocked when I found out I broke the school record.” Aline performed When I Look at You, a song from the musical, The Scarlet Pimpernel, because she wanted to challenge herself to express emotions that would be difficult for her to share.

Not only did Aline score phenomenally in the competition, but she also got the opportunity to audition for a room of college representatives. She received many callbacks  and had a few college interviews. “On Thursday, the day we arrived, I had the ability to audition for a room of college representatives. That night, I received twelve callbacks, which was very exciting,” she said.

Aline was not the only successful BT student at Thescon. Austin Phillips, another BT junior, earned his fifth invitation to compete at Nationals. Austin started preparing his piece, In the Middle of a Moment, from James and the Giant Peach, in July of 2015. “It took a lot of time to get everything perfect and really dig into the character I was portraying,” Austin said about the preparation process.

While solos are very successful in Thescon, a duet like Some Things are Meant to Be, from Little Women, performed by Rachael Keneally and Grace Jones, BT senior and junior respectively, could not be overlooked. “It’s a very sad song. It’s heartbreaking,” Rachael revealed. “We both actually cried. People in the audience were crying, too. It was really cool to see that we moved that many people. That’s why people perform; to move people.”

In the moments leading up to their performance, both girls were nervous, but prepared. “We had this overlying sense of zen about it,” Rachael explained. “We felt like it was going to happen in the moment.”

The nerves vanished, and the girls delivered a touching, heart-wrenching performance. “Performing on stage is basically magic,” Grace said. “The complete vulnerability of being a real, raw person in front of so many onlookers is incredible.”

Rachael, who attended Thescon for the first time this year, found the experience to be utterly unique. “I was pretty nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s like four thousand people who think and perform a lot like you,” she expressed.

Thescon wasn’t just magical for newcomers, though. Austin Phillips has been to the conference every year since 2011. “I had started musical theater in 6th grade and my middle school director thought it would be a good idea to be evaluated and see what I could improve on,” he explained. “Receiving my 5th invitation this year to compete at Nationals really shows how much I have grown as a performer.”

With four students headed to Lincoln, Nebraska in June to compete in the National Thespian Conference, this year’s Thescon could be considered the most successful conference in the Blessed Trinity Theatrical Alliance’s history, and yet there’s more to come. These talented students have already started preparing pieces for next year’s conference. “My vocal teacher and I have already laid out around thirty possible song choices for next year,” Austin said. “We’re making sure that we can end out performing at Thescon with a bang.”

Written by: Special Contributor, Intro to Journalism Student Sophie Naccarato, BT Sophomore