In their first year competing in Class 6A, Waxahachie High theater students will put UIL One-Act Play judges on an emotional roller coaster with the production of “The Runner Stumbles” this season.

Student actors competed in a 6A One-Act Play zone contest on Wednesday and were the first group to take the Cedar Hill High School stage. Waxahachie High earned first place with six students recognized individually.

The District 7-6A contest will take place Saturday at South Grand Prairie High School and Waxahachie will perform last.

The student actors have presented comedy and light-hearted productions throughout the beginning of the theater season with “Mary Poppins,” “Rumors,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “Holding On” in black box theater.

Long-time theater director Andy Reynolds noted the last time Waxahachie attempted “The Runner Stumbles” was about a decade ago. The group did not reach the state competition.

“These kids are such good artists and good at what they do," Reynolds said after dress rehearsal on Tuesday. "They wanted to be challenged when it comes to emotional recall and telling a story that is really beyond our years.”

“The Runner Stumbles” is based on a true story that took place in 1911 in Michigan at a Roman Catholic parish. In the story, a small town priest stands trial for killing a young nun he had secretly loved.

Sister Rita, played by Kamerann Burney, arrives to aid in the operations of the church school. Sister Rita is then promoted to work in the home of Father Rivard, who is played by junior Jaden Patterson. The priest and nun grow close and engage in a prohibited love. Their declaration of emotion leads to tragedy. The sorrowful tale is narrated through flashbacks while his defense attorney counsels Father Rivard.

Senior Sam Linguist has participated in One-Act Play since he was a freshman — amounting to 16 competitions. This year, Linguist portrays Toby Felker, the novice defense lawyer.

“I’ve watched a lot of ‘Marvelous Miss Maisel.’ It’s a lot of angry Jewish people. I really like that," Linguist shared. "You have to be very frustrated with Jaden, which is sometimes harder than others.”

Linguist acknowledged his co-actor Adam Sigala, senior, who portrays Monsignor Sigla, had a few friends in the program and would film them for his own productions. This is the first year for Sigala to participate in theater. Usually, Sigala is behind the camera directing.

"I started acting in my own videos, and I really like acting," Sigala said. "It was a lot different than being behind the camera, and I wanted that little bit of extra experience.”

“I can honestly say that being in theater has made this the best year of my life,” Sigala expressed.

Thought this experience, Sigala learned that he can bring a completely different personality to life, which was a challenge in the beginning as his character is the complete opposite of his own personality.

Last year, WHS theater took home third place in 5A One-Act Play state championship with the production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” In the final contest, the students garnered 15 individual awards and placed first in each of the three rounds before the state championship.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450