Orlando, Florida: If you happened to be at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando any time between January 31st and February 2nd, you probably found yourself surrounded by all kinds of drama. No, not the crazy Uncle George-at-Thanksgiving kind of drama; it was a much better kind. You know, the artsy-fartsy, filled-with-talent kind…the kind of drama that is cultured and doesn’t generally include words like “fartsy” in the description. Either way, you get the picture.

Who brought all of this extra drama to Orlando? Glad you asked. It was shipped in by hundreds of drama instructors via thousands of talented middle school kids. Kids who traveled from every nook and cranny of our state to compete for bragging rights, glory, and accolades at the Florida State Junior Thespian Festival.

Needless to say, South Walton was well represented by some very talented middle schoolers who comprise Junior Thespian Troupe #89447. Of course, that’s exactly why we here at 30a Scene are writing about it. That and the owner’s kid is a member of the troupe (full disclosure).

Not familiar with Junior Thespian Troupe #89447? The troupe is a product of The Emerald Coast Theater Company’s (ECTC) student education program, and they “operate in partnership with Seaside Neighborhood School. This ensemble of thespians is a chartered member of the Educational Theatre Association’s Junior Thespians and compete at regional and state competitions.”

The troupe also makes appearances within our community and shares their love of performing while promoting ECTC’s educational programs. Currently led by seasoned actress and instructor Darla Briganti-Kain, the troupe meets weekly for rehearsals and participates in a plethora of theater-related educational opportunities. It is comprised of students in the 6th through 8th grade. For more info on how you or your student can be involved in the troupe, click here

Prior to making their trip to the state festival, Troup #89447 had the hurdle of competing at the regional level in Niceville back in December. Their stellar performances qualified them for 8 events at state. In order to qualify for state competition, troupe members must have received a superior rating in their respective events at the regional competition.

According to Nathanael Fisher, Producing Artistic Director of the Emerald Coast Theater Company, “It is thrilling to see these children finding self-confidence and communication skills through theatre.  It is our joy to see how proud these children are of what they are accomplishing and it is special to see how proud the parents are of what their child is accomplishing as well.  Who knows if Broadway is in their future, but we are confident that we have future public speakers, world changers, and empathetic public servants in our midst!

There are two subdivisions of events in which students can compete. Performance-related events are exactly as described: performance related; technical events are activities that one would find “behind the scenes” in theater production.

Now that you know how this thing works, here is a list of our local stage stars, the pieces they performed, and how they fared in the state competition for their respective events:

Technical Events: 

  1. Scene Writing – Clara Taylor – The Golden RuleSUPERIOR
  2. Scene Writing –  Wren Hall – Ancient Civilizations –  SUPERIOR

Performance Events:

  1. Large Group Musical – Feel The Emotion – EXCELLENT

Aidan Aichele, Sasha Blair, Aislynn Brown, Rachel Calderazzo, Kara Crowther, Wren Hall, Savannah Herndon, Aaliyah Herrera, Ciara Quinn (Troupe President), Sean Rushford, Kaylynn Sirney, Clara Taylor, Leo Vallee, Gabrielle Wells, Ben Wright

  1. Monologue – Clara Taylor – Spine EXCELLENT
  1. Solo – Rachel Calderazzo – Dog Fight EXCELLENT
  1. Solo – Maya Sien – One Perfect Moment EXCELLENT
  1. Small Group Musical –  Clara Taylor, Kaylynn Sirney, Gabrielle Wells – It Isn’t FairEXCELLENT
  1. Ensemble Acting – Aidan Aichele, Savannah Herndon, Sean Rushford,  Leo Vallee – Tea Party in WonderlandEXCELLENT
  1. Duet Acting – Kara Crowther, Gabrielle Wells – Above It All EXCELLENT
  1. Duet Improv – Aislynn Brown, Sasha Blair – GOOD


Troupe members checking into the hotel

Dressed for a night at the theater

Waiting to compete

Photo Credits: Ben Wright and Amy Wells


The junior troupe is currently accepting more participants, so definitely check out the ECTC website for details on this and other educational opportunities for your talented student.