Acting Their Age

Stephanie Scarano, Staff writer

The Allen High School Theater  UIL performance of “Over the River and Through the Woods” premiered March 20, and although they did not advance, the cast brought home a few awards, including honorable mention for best actress.


The cast played elderly grandparents and their grandson. The grandparents, played by seniors Caitie Sotny, Cheyenne Coleman and Matthew Phelps along with junior Thomas Schnaible, attempt to keep their grandson Nick, played by senior Ryan Perez, at home while he plans to move far from home for a new job. While the play is overall lighthearted, it also has some sad moments that makes the story more relatable.


“The directors chose this play because it’s really relatable,” Phelps said. [It] is about family and the bond family members have, something that everyone knows and relates to.”

UIL competitive acting differs from normal stage acting. Behind the scenes of “Over the River and Through the Woods,” UIL rules dictate how the cast lights up their stage and says their lines. A strict 40-minute time limit is set for showtime, and only seven minutes for strike, or clean up, afterwards.


“UIL is pretty much synonymous with losing your mind for a few months. We get down to such excruciating detail when we rehearse, and precision is key in UIL,” Phelps said.


The cast members who portrayed the grandparents prepared for competition day by shadowing, or following and mimicking, older figures in their lives. UIL places a heavy point value on characterization and accurate portrayal of characters.


“I watched [my grandparents] and sort of mimicked their movements and mannerisms,” Phelps said. “I think it made for some interesting character choices.”


Although the Allen team did not advance, the cast was proud of their performance and glad to have had the opportunity, Phelps said. Phelps also left some words of advice for any actors auditioning for future UIL plays.


“Put in the work,” Phelps said. “Don’t give in to the monumental odds. Try to stay positive.”