Local theater students will compete at Disney World

February 22, 2014 Updated: February 22, 2014 at 6:01 am
photo - University School Colorado Springs students prepare for the National Performing Arts Festival at Disney World.
University School Colorado Springs students prepare for the National Performing Arts Festival at Disney World. 

Local theater students hope to parlay their love of Shakespeare into a big win at Walt Disney World this weekend.

Local theater director and teacher Nancy Holaday will once again take a group of her advanced students from University School of Colorado Springs to the National Performing Arts Festival in Florida. Once there, the six actors will do what they do best: Shakespeare. More specifically, "What Fools These Mortals Be," a meditation on love taken from the works of Shakespeare, she said.

"My kids really like Shakespeare," said Holaday, who also owns the Black Box Theater. "It's valuable for kids to learn classical literature."

While other groups at the competition will be busy throwing down numbers from Broadway musicals, such as "Aladdin" and "The 101 Dalmations Musical," Holaday's kids will go classic.

"Two years ago when we went, judges were blown away because there was 'Beauty and the Beast,' and a lot of pieces that were really done well, but they weren't anything close to ours," said Kelsey Eastham, 17, a junior at USCS. She plays Hermia in the show.

"Shakespeare is what we do best," she said.

"I love the themes and the words aren't something you hear every day. The language is beautiful."

It's not the first time Holaday's taken Shakespeare to the same competition. In 2012, a group of her students performed scenes from "Romeo and Juliet," and won a few awards, including an Excellent for Group Performance and Best Actor for Romeo.

Shakespeare is timeless, Holaday said. "He's dealt with every theme you can find in literature or the human experience. The language is interesting and intricate, and it gives kids something to focus on. They have such a sense of accomplishment when they master it. They discover it's not that difficult."

The weekend in Florida also includes workshops with professional Disney actors and singers, and whoever wins the competition has the chance to perform in front of the Disney World crowds.

"I am so excited. This will be my second time going," said Eastham.

"It was a great experience the first time. It's interesting and you get great tips from the judges.

"It's great to see our progress, and it challenges us as actors and a group as well - to become closer to each other. We've become a tight-knit family because of it."

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