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Emi Hansen and Gretchen Call advance to next round; troupe will stage 'Clue' beginning Thursday

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The NHS troupe will begin staging 'Clue' on Thursday in the Drea Ferguson Auditorium.

After a year of competing virtually, 18 Newberg High School drama students returned to the stage at the Oregon Thespian's Northwest Regional Acting Competition on Feb. 5. At the end of the night, the group walked away with several awards.

Hosted at Century High School in Hillsboro, students from all over the Northwest region — which includes Oregon schools above the 45th parallel and to the west of Interstate 5 — performed songs or brief scenes either by themselves or as a duo in many different categories. NHS theater director Mike McConaughey said that his students put the pieces together themselves outside of class.

NHS students Emi Hansen and Gretchen Call qualified for the state competition in the duet music category. Regionalist finalists in the solo music category were Patrick Tabscott, Emi Hanson, RJ Tofte and Mia Ramirez. Noelle and Kingston Gottfried were regional finalists in the duo acting category.

Hansen and Hall will perform their duet again at the state competition and theater conference during the first weekend of April, along with state qualifiers from Oregon's northeast, southern and "virtual" regions (schools unable to participate in-person due to COVID-19 restrictions).

If Hansen and Hall score high enough, they will perform their piece again on the final day of the conference, along with the other top scorers.

Even with all the recognition NHS received at the competition, Mcconaughey emphasized that the most enjoyable part for him and his students is simply competing. Students competing make friends with kids from other schools, receive valuable feedback on their artistry and learn to cheer on their competition, while also being cheered on themselves.

"It's pretty fun to go to a competition and have everyone feeling like they've been supported," McConaughey said, adding that recognition is merely "the cherry on the top."

Additionally, he described the competition as a great learning experience, where students can "hear from other voices," not just his repeated advice.

Overall, McConaughey said he was proud of his students for how engaged they were with other groups as well as being supportive, often seeking out competitors in the hallways to congratulate them.

"That's why we're there and what we're trying to accomplish," McConaughey said.

In the meantime, the NHS theater department is gearing up for its next production, "Clue," a farcical comedy following the larger than life characters from the famous board game. It is rated PG-13 for adult themes and stage violence.

The show will open at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17. Other performances will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as Feb. 24, 25 and 26. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors and can be purchased at

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