THE FIRST-EVER Virtual International Thespian Festival will come to a celebratory close on Friday, June 26, with the live broadcast of the inaugural International Thespian Excellence Awards, or Thespys™ for short. The Thespys recognize the highest level of achievement in school theatre performance and technical theatre.

In a coup for this year’s winners, the showcase event will be broadcast live at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time on a special episode of Stars in the House, hosted by SiriusXM On Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky and his husband and producer, James Wesley. Frank DiLella, host of New York 1’s On Stage, will be the showcase host. The live showcase stream also will be available on, Apples and Oranges Studios’ YouTube channel, and the Educational Theatre Association’s YouTube channel.

This year’s awards honor 21 students from two countries and seven states. All Thespys winners earned the top scores in their categories at the International Thespian Festival. The program, formerly National Individual Events, gives Thespians the opportunity to receive constructive feedback on prepared theatrical material and technical designs.

Jeyna Lynn Gonzales

Jeyna Lynn Gonzales

“Participating in the International Thespian Festival has been a dream of mine for years, and I have had such a great first experience,” said Jeyna Lynn Gonzales, a Thespian from Troupe 6371 at J.R. Arnold High School in Panama City Beach, Florida, and a Thespys winner in the monologue category for her pieces from Tribes and Roosters. “My team and I have worked very hard to get here, and I am incredibly proud to have the opportunity to represent my troupe, district, and state at the highest level possible for a high school Thespian. Let alone being the first group at my school to attend ITF, this is the first international award my troupe has received. I cannot wait to share the news with our principal!”

Trysten Williams, a Thespian from Troupe 6753 at G.W. Carver Magnet High School in Houston, Texas, earned a Thespy in duet acting with Cody Dixon for their performance from Fences. Williams said ITF has been “a wonderful experience for me to get valuable knowledge and meet new people from across the country. This week has been a roller coaster of emotions.”

The virtual nature of this year’s awards ceremony lends itself to performance. As a result, four additional students who received high rankings in their categories will be able to participate in the showcase, including Derek Norris, a Thespian from Troupe 2277 at Hutchinson High School in Kansas. “This festival has been an incredible experience so far,” Norris said. “I’m having a great time watching shows, going to workshops, and chatting with people … all while in my pajamas! The festival has meant so much to me this year due to it being my last festival before I go off to college. I have been looking forward to it and trying to take it all in with a positive and excited attitude.”

Thespy winner Rachel Rudolph

Rachel Rudolph

Though students were disappointed not to gather in person, they have been gratified by the community and resilience shown by their peers throughout the virtual event. “We’re celebrating the work of students across the world during these troubling times,” said Rachel Rudolph of Troupe 7935 at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rudolph earned a Thespy for her performance of Come From Away’s “Me and the Sky” in the solo musical theatre category. “Despite the unfortunate circumstances this year has brought, this festival shows how we can come together to heal, learn, and grow. This week has been opening my eyes to how theatre can survive during this crisis. We’re all keeping a positive outlook and doing the best we can. It’s really refreshing to see everyone work and learn together.”

The complete list of Thespys winners follows.


Margaret Hammond, Nuview Bridge Early College High School, Thespian Troupe 8117, Nuevo
Costume Design — She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition

Jeyna Lynn Gonzales, J. R. Arnold High School, Thespian Troupe 6371, Panama City Beach
Monologue — Tribes and Roosters

Allison Cartmill, Seminole High School, Thespian Troupe 3266, Sanford
Scenic Design — Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Bethany Robertson, Olathe North High School, Thespian Troupe 3310, Olathe
Costume Construction — Elf the Musical

Katelyn Gillette, Olathe North High School, Thespian Troupe 3310, Olathe
Sound Design — Elf the Musical

Grant Martin, Olathe East High School, Thespian Troupe 5078, Olathe
Scenic Design — Carrie the Musical

Charlotte Bariteau, Ballard High School, Thespian Troupe 6932, Louisville
Theatre Marketing — 45 Plays for 45 Presidents

Rachel Rudolph, Ardrey Kell High School, Thespian Troupe 7935, Charlotte
Solo Musical Theatre — “Me and the Sky” from Come from Away

Natalie Lawton, Redmond Proficiency Academy, Thespian Troupe 7715, Redmond
Stage Management — She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition

Najea Broadnax, Jazlynn Thomas, and Avonlea Yeakley,  Fulshear High School, Thespian Troupe 8336, Fulshear
Group Musical Theatre — “Make Him Mine” from The Witches of Eastwick

Nicholas Harrison and Reese Henrick, Obra D. Tompkins High School, Thespian Troupe 7963, Katy
Duet Musical — “Therapy” from Tick Tick Boom

Cody Dixon and Trysten Williams, G.W. Carver Magnet High School, Thespian Troupe 6753, Houston
Duet Acting — Fences

Lauren Snow, Midlothian Heritage High School, Thespian Troupe 8239, Midlothian
Makeup Design — Alice in Wonderland

Carson Perkins, John Randolph Foster High School, Thespian Troupe 7961, Richmond
Lighting Design — Metamorphoses

James Park, Jin Seok Park, and Ryan Kang, Marianas High School, Thespian Troupe 5374, Northern Marianas Islands
Short Film — A White World

The additional showcase performers are:
Amelia Gibbons, Thespian Troupe 9011, West De Pere High School, Wisconsin
Solo Musical Theatre — “Safer” from First Date

Grable Howie and Jazz Mueller, Thespian Troupe 3384, Niwot High School, Colorado
Duet Musical Theatre — “I Am the One (Reprise)” from Next to Normal

Derek Norris, Hutchinson High School, Thespian Troupe 2277, Kansas
Monologue — Hello, Goodbye, Peace and Red

The Thespys are sponsored by Concord Theatricals. Learn more about the International Thespian Festival online.

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