CHARLOTTE – Ardrey Kell theater student Rachel Rudolph won an International Thespian Award at the 2020 Virtual International Thespian Society Festival.
Rudolph, a rising junior, was originally scheduled to go to the festival in Indiana with her castmates to perform “Puffs” by Matt Cox, one of 11 productions in the nation chosen to perform on the main stage, but the festival was moved to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rudolph was impressed with how hard the International Thespian Society worked to create a meaningful experience for students despite the challenges of going virtual.
“They could have easily said, ‘It’s canceled. See you next year’ but instead they worked hard to create something special for theater kids like me across the country,” Rudolph said.
The festival is the pinnacle event for high school thespians around the world and remained committed to offering students as much of the original experience as possible, despite the challenges of moving everything online. Students attended virtual performances, workshops, and question and answer sessions with well-known celebrities like Tine Fey, Dolly Parton and Stephen Schwartz.
Students were still able to submit work to be considered for the International Thespian Awards. Rudolph sent in her self-recorded rendition of “Me and The Sky” from the Broadway hit “Come From Away” by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and won the Solo Musical Theatre category. She is one of only 21 students across the nation to receive a Thespy Award.
“Rachel is a powerhouse of skill in our program,” said Brian Seagroves, Ardrey Kell drama teacher. “We are honored that ITF provided the chance for her incredible talent and passion to be shared at the national level.”
Ardrey Kell drama teacher Terry Gabbard agreed.
“What makes this win even more special is the fact that Rachel was able to create something so beautiful during such difficult times,” Gabbard said. “I am proud of her dedication to her craft and her fortitude to create no matter the circumstances.”
Rudolph wishes she and her “Puffs” friends could have enjoyed the week together in Indiana but she feels “honored” and “really grateful” for the opportunity she had to participate in the awards.
“Our school’s journey to the ITS Festival had so many twists and turns, and ups and downs,” she said, “but it was pretty exciting to end it experiencing something like this.”