District 99 Theatre Student, Staff Headed to State Festival Stage

A group of Downers Grove District 99 high school students and staff will take their talents to the big stage this weekend at the state theatre fest at Illinois State University.

Students and staff from District 99 in Downers Grove will participate in the 39th Annual High School Theatre Festival at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. The festival will run January 9-11. 

It is the largest non-competitive theatre festival in North America, and will include over 4,000 participants representing 140 high schools, 50 colleges and over 50 professional exhibitors. 

For the first time, a student from District 99 has been selected as a top student actor in the state and will be a cast member in the All-State play. North High senior Alexa Castelvecchi will perform in a production of “The Grapes of Wrath,” and performances will run throughout the Festival.

In addition to the students who will participate, North High teacher Demetrios Pappageorge was selected by the Illinois Theatre Association to serve as executive director of the entire Festival, which he has themed “Explore the Extraordinary.” As part of his role, he has led and coordinated with over 30 theater educators statewide to plan the event. In addition to Pappageorge, North High’s Farrah Velazquez is serving as associate director for college auditions and South High’s Nathaniel Haywood is serving as associate director for ceremonies. 

“We are so excited about this year’s Festival,” says Pappageorge. “Not only do we have extraordinary workshops, the All-State show and amazing high school productions from every region in the state, but we also have a knock-out collection of professional companies to perform and work with our students.”

The festival provides students and educators access to over 150 workshops, including sessions about professional lighting and sound design, costumes, set design, acting, dance, singing, directing, and other theatre topics. In addition, there will be performances from three professional theatre companies as well as a fantasy make-up workshop with Anthony Kosar, last season’s champion of the Face-Off Competition on the SciFi Channel. Seniors also have the chance to audition or interview for college theatre programs during the Festival, and to meet and discuss scholarship opportunities.

For more information, visit http://www.illinoistheatrefest.org/.


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