Over 1,600 Expected at Viterbo Nov. 20–22 for Statewide Theatre Festival

An estimated 1,600 students, teachers, and evaluators representing 53 Wisconsin high schools will be in La Crosse Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 20–22 to participate in the 24th Annual Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival (WHSTF) hosted by Viterbo University.

As part of the festival, many of the schools and their students will stage shortened one-act plays which will be performed over the course of several days in the Fine Arts Center Recital Hall and at the Weber Center for the Performing Arts.

WHSTF will also feature a “Tech (theatre) Olympics” as well as over 50 workshops covering a variety of theatre topics from stage combat to Kabuki acting techniques and acting Shakespeare.

Theatre lovers from the area will also benefit from the Viterbo location. Two full-length showcase performances which are scheduled for festival-goers will be open to the general public.

Appleton North High School will perform Journey to the West by Mary Zimmerman. The play is an adaptation of a 16th century Chinese comic novel based on the true story of a seventh century monk and his 16-year pilgrimage from China to India in search of sacred texts. Mixing whimsy with spiritual weight, Zimmerman's script delivers a delightful and thought-provoking combination of comedy, adventure, satire, and allegories of human perseverance.

On Friday, Kenosha’s Bradford High School will stage the play, Hello! My Baby at 4 and 8 p.m. Set in the early part of the last century on the sidewalks of New York, the story follows Mickey McKee, King of the Song-Pluggers, who dreams of writing the next Tin Pan Alley million-selling hit song. Only problem is Mickey can't write a note—until he meets Nelly Gold, a factory worker with a talent for tunes and moxie to spare. Mickey and Nelly make beautiful music together until she puts on the trousers she once sewed, calls herself Ned, and becomes the new King of the Pluggers and Mickey's arch-rival. These mismatched young lovers and their unlikely friends sing, dance, bicker, and coo from Debutante Balls to Delancey Street, confronting class struggles, social reform, gender-swapping, street-thugs, and a whole lot of ukuleles, as they sell the songs we're still humming a hundred years later.

Tickets are required for the showcase performance and are available for sale, cash or check only, in the lobby starting one hour before each show.

“This is a premier event and we are pleased to host it,” said Michael Ranscht, Fine Arts Center. “It is important for Viterbo to give back to the profession by being part of the development of young talent and future artists. It is our future.”