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Crowds roar for ‘Matilda’ at Theatre Fest

Krystal Wilson
Junior Ilaria Okerson singing as she plays Matilda in the show “Matilda”

Theatre students and theater director Hannah Drake took a trip to Illinois State University (ISU) in Bloomington for Theatre Fest Jan. 12.

According to, Theatre Fest is the largest and oldest non-competitive high school theater festival in the nation. The IHSTF 2024 All-State production was She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen.

 Theatre students were able to make memories by being able to perform Matilda twice. According to some students who attended Theatre Fest this year, the cast of Matilda was only given three hours  to build the set, set up props, and get ready.

Students ranging from freshmen to seniors in theatre got the chance to attend this trip.

 “I have been to Theatre Fest before,” junior Bella Teston said. She attended last year’s Theatre Fest as well as this year’s. 

According to, about one-fourth of high schools in the state participate in the festival every year.

“I had lots of fun, other than the fact that it’s hard to be able to go see other shows whilst being in one of the shows,” senior Chelsea Morales said.

 Junior Ilaria Okerson said that thankfully she was able to get in line early and watch the show Pippin, performed by Edwardsville High School

“I wish I would have had more time to see more shows but since I was performing on Friday, my schedule was full,” Okerson said. She said that she still had lots of fun. It was a really great experience and she can’t wait to go next year. 

Theatre Fest is held every year around the same time, but switches between University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and ISU.

“I really wanted to go see Mean Girls and Alice By Heart, but other than that I did everything I had wanted to do,” Morales said. “I’m actually really sad that this will be the last time I can attend  because I enjoy Theatre Fest. The crowd at Theatre Fest was just unmatchable.”

Means Girls was performed by Deerfield High School and Alice by Heart was performed by Coal City High School. 

Morales said that it’s very nice to be able to meet new people and be surrounded by others with the same interests.

“My favorite part of Theatre Fest was the audience because it was filled entirely with other people who love the fine arts too,” Teston said. “They were such an involved and supportive audience.”

Sophomore Isaac Miller playing the role of Rudolpho in the show “Matilda” (Krystal Wilson)
Cast of “Matilda” setting up stage in preparation for the show. (Krystal Wilson)
View of the crowd enjoying the performance. (Krystal Wilson)
Senior Mary Beth Winkleman and juniors Kaydan Angelly and Layla Reeder play the roles of school girls in the show “Matilda”. (Krystal Wilson)
Ilaria Okerson playing the role of Matilda. (Krystal Wilson)
Junior Bella Dooley preparing for the “Matilda” show. (Krystal Wilson)
Junior Bella Teston playing the role of Ms. Trunchbull in the show “Matilda”. (Krystal Wilson)
Freshman Noah Billman plays the role of Michael, Matilda’s younger brother. (Krystal Wilson)
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Bryleigh Lewis, Staff Writer
Bryleigh Lewis is a senior at Harrisburg High School. This is her first year on the Purple Clarion staff. She spends most of her time doing things around the house, art and homework.  “I think journalism is important because it helps spread news about important information. Everyone needs to know about important things going on, especially at your school, so they can stay up to date.”

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