Lots going on with the arts at Hill City High School

Gray Hughes

"Hill City quartet performs at All State Choir"

Earlier in the month, Hill City High School students Mikennah Oleson (sophomore), Mercedes Reed (senior), Holden Stach (senior) and Jaydon Rogers (senior) traveled to Sioux Falls to represent their school in the All State Choir.

The All State Choir, Rogers said, is a very large choir that performs every year.

“It is made up of about 1,000 students,” Stach added. “It has representatives from every South Dakota school.”

While some larger schools may send three or four quartets, Hill City sent one quartet.

Those selected to perform must go through an audition process, which is held at the end of the previous school year. The teacher collects the audio of those who auditioned and sends it away for judging.

This was Stach’s fourth year representing Hill City High School at the All State Choir.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It has been a good experience overall, but this year really put the icing on the cake.”

Since only four go to represent the school, they all travel to Sioux Falls together in a Suburban, Rogers said, leaving Hill City Oct. 31.

They had rehearsals  Friday, Nov. 1 beginning at 8 a.m. The quartet then had lunch and rehearsed more, getting back to their rooms around 9:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Nov. 2, the day of the concert, the quartet rehearsed with the orchestra, had lunch, had a break and then went back for the concert.

The performance began with the National Anthem, then the orchestra played a set, then they did set with the orchestra and then a set without the orchestra.

The performances went great, Stach said.

“We are always very loud,” Rogers said with a laugh. “We’re always louder than other people. Some students are dependent on their music. We’re confident but it’s a struggle to be loud because you can get nervous.”

This year, though, Stach said they were not as loud, but everyone knew their part.

“This whole performance is months in the making,” Oleson said.

Some schools star their audition process later, but not in Hill City, Rogers said.

The quartet did rehearsals before and after school leading up to their performance.

For the seniors, they’re sad to be moving on from the All State Choir.

“I’ve been doing it for three years,” Rogers said. “It is sad that this was my last.”

The whole event is really fun, he added, and they all really enjoy performing together.

Oleson, who will be the lone student to not be graduating this year from the quartet, though, is looking forward to the future.

“I am looking forward to doing it next year, but it’s going to stink not having these other three with me next year,” she said. “I look up to them. They’re great people to look up to.”

"Play time in Hill City"

It’s play time in Hill City — the dramatic type.

Hill City High School is putting on a production of “Almost, Maine,” written by John Cariani and directed by Bryon Christian, an English teacher at the high school.

“The show has become widely produced across the country, which is kind of remarkable because it started as an off-Broadway show,” Christian said. “But it has found a new life in school and local theater productions.”

The play, Christian said, is difficult to characterize. It’s a drama but not quite a tragedy but also a comedy but not farcical.

The play has vignettes about love that all take place at the same time. Two students will be on stage at a time, acting out a scene.

The play takes place in the fictional town of Almost, Maine. It intertwines the playwright’s vision of love throughout the play, Christian said.

“Every scene is a different vignette…taking place at the same time as all the other vignettes,” he added.

None of the scenes are related, but they carry the same theme: love.

The cast this year, Christian said, is fantastic. They have a combination of acting veterans and some newcomers.

Some of the scenes, Christian said, can be challenging. There’s one entire scene where not a single word is said. But it’s a really fun challenge, he said.

Christian said sometimes, the pauses in between words say as much as the words themselves. They are trying to teach the kids how to utilize that silence.

“It has been great to see,” Christian said.

The cast started working on the play during the first week in October. With the performance coming up soon, they really were in the sweet spot of rehearsal time, Christian said.

The cast, he said, has really risen to the occasion.

“We really are hoping people are going to love it and come out and support us,” he said.

“Almost, Maine” will be performed Nov. 18-19 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $5, tickets for students and seniors are $3. There will be a dessert intermission to support the drama club.

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