Students steal the show

Winners Maura Coder and Summer Skillen with their coach, Deborah Frauenholz

Call the event the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Tonys for high school drama students in the Western Pennsylvania area.

That event would be the annual “Shakespeare Scene and Monologue Contest” sponsored by the Pittsburgh Public Theater and held at the O'Reilly Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh recently. Students from public schools, as well as home-schoolers and students from charter and parochial schools audition, are proud to make it to the finals and justifiably thrilled to be named the winners.

Avonworth juniors Maura Corder and Summer Skillen achieved that thrill, being named the winners of the upper-level monologue competition. Out of 1,200 students who initially auditioned, the duo was one of four winning finalists, the others being from Gateway, Trinity, and Lincoln Park Performing Arts School.

Maura and Summer, both juniors, presented their interpretation of a scene from the comedy, “All’s Well That Ends Well,” with Maura playing Helena and Summer playing the Countess.

Avonworth’s musical director, Deborah Frauenholz who coached their performance, said, "We are always hopeful, and work diligently to get inside of the moment in each contestant's scene every year as they prepare. However, Maura and Summer just seemed to have a spark early on that grew into a warmth and playful joy that sold the scene. They were in it for the love of classical theater. They chose to participate and selected their pieces on their own. Little did they know they were also 'In it to win it!’”

Summer said, “Going into my fifth year of participating in the Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest, I knew I wanted to enjoy myself but also put in enough work so I could feel a sense of pride in what I was doing. I was honored to be in a room with people who love Shakespeare, theater, and everything it stands for. The realization that others could notice the work and passion put into what Maura and I strived for this year was an honor,” Summer said.

Maura also spoke of the long road to their achievement. “Since my first entry six years ago, I have looked forward every year to preparing for and performing in the Shakespeare monologue contest. I was honored to become a finalist and then win, in part because I have seen the quality of the performances over the years. I cannot express enough gratitude to the Pittsburgh Public Theater for this opportunity, and I’d also like to thank Frau for her dedication in helping Summer and me.”

Frauenholz added, “The Producing Artistic Director at The Public said, ‘They were spot-on!’”