MI Thespian Festival comes to GR for first time

Students take part in a workshop at the Michigan Thespian Festival on Dec. 15, 2017 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Mich.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the first time, the Michigan Thespian Festival is taking place in Grand Rapids.

The festival is the largest annual theater event in the state and offers 1,500 high school students an opportunity to take part in workshops, performances and other activities. Participants can also audition for scholarships at 30 colleges and network with industry professionals.

At the 2016 Michigan Thespian Festival, over $5 million in scholarships were given to students, Avery said.

“To be able to come together and network with other kids who feel the same way they do about theater,” said Todd Avery, Director of the Michigan Thespian Festival and theater director at Jenison High School.

All the festival’s participants share a passion for the stage.

“Part of it is the audience (and) hearing their reaction,” said Fowlerville High School senior Natalie Chandler. “Hearing that they’re like, helping them for a moment is really cool.”

Theater is a tough business to break into, with odds as difficult to overcome as some of the moves in a scene. But for many of these students, that passion for the stage ignites can guide their future regardless of where life takes them.

“Maybe it’s not on stage, maybe it’s not backstage,” Avery said. “But you can bring that same passion and confidence to a doctor to being a teacher to being a social worker.”

The festival concludes Saturday at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.