The cast and crew of the Illinois High School Theatre Festival’s All-State production of Big Fish has been invited to present at the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska in June. This is a pretty big deal, as only eleven groups in the nation were invited. The cast is comprised of students from across the state, including a few from the area, and the director is LaDonne Wilson, of Champaign Central High School.

Here’s a bit from the press release:

ILLINOIS (March 26, 2018)— The Illinois High School Theatre Festival’s All-State cast and crew, comprised of student thespians from across Illinois, have been invited to present their production of Big Fish at the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska in June, 2018. Directed by LaDonna Wilson, director of Thespian Troupe 5981 of Champaign Central High School, they are one of only eleven groups in the nation invited to perform.

The International Thespian Festival (ITF), produced by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), celebrates student achievement in the performing arts. The 55th event, which this year takes place June 25-30 at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, brings together more than 4,000 high school drama students and their teachers for a week-long immersion in workshops; interaction with colleges, industry leaders, and Broadway professionals; and opportunities to be inspired by the best high school theatre in the nation.

Premiering at the Illinois High School Theatre Festival in January, 2018 and produced by the Illinois Theatre Association, the Illinois All-State Big Fish cast, crew, and pit represent over 45 schools in the state. Hundreds of students auditioned and interviewed and 107 were selected to represent the best of Illinois High School Theatre. “This company embodies the most loving and supportive group of teenagers I have ever encountered; “ says Wilson, the director, “their performances mirrored their generosity of spirit and collaboration. They completely earned the honor of being one of only five shows chosen to perform on the large stage at Nationals.”

The highly coveted invitation signals achievement of superior work in theatre according to EdTA’s Director of Educational Programs Nancy Brown. “It is a real honor,” she explains, “because we send screening teams out all across the U.S. and Canada during the school year and only eleven schools were selected to present their shows on the main stage. These Thespian troupes have earned a slot among those honored few."

This is a pretty incredible accomplishment, and they’re raising money to help cover the cost of the trip this summer. Click here to donate.

Here are some photos from the production:

Photos by Paul Mahon and Jeff Baustert.