Drama queens 1st

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Hayden High School students overcame scattered practices and sound problems to take first place in a drama competition Friday.

Hayden was one of eight Western Slope schools that performed one-act plays at the drama festival at Plateau Valley High School near Grand Junction.

Hayden seniors Margie Jones and Hannah Williams and junior Justine Bedell won a trophy for their performance of "Vanities," a play about three self-absorbed cheerleaders who can hardly see past their own pompoms to recognize the larger world around them. Sophomore Lydia Murray coordinated sound for the play.

Jones, who was named best actress at last year's festival, received the award for the second time this year.

"We won because we had a better play, and we performed it better," drama instructor Gary Shaw said. "It wasn't just a frivolous high school play, these guys really worked hard and had great characters."

Getting to first place wasn't easy for the students, who rarely rehearsed all together because of their varied commitments.

The students also faced a big challenge at the competition, when the person running the sound board missed several big sound cues in the play. Murray, who had a script backstage, helped save the performance by ad libbing her voice as the announcer in the play.

"There were a number of things that could have been disasters, but they had enough poise on stage to keep it together," Shaw said.

Written by Jack Heifner, "Vanities" takes place on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. After hearing the announcement over the school loudspeaker, the self-absorbed cheerleaders think their student council president has been shot.

The play, filled with double-meanings, was made even more ironic by the actors, who are high school students, Shaw said.

The students worked hard to differentiate the roles and make each character interesting, said Shaw, noting that Jones was particularly motivated to win first place this year after her group placed second in the 2004 competition.

"I think she had more to do with pushing this cast toward excellence than I did," he said. "She had a mission."

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