April 01, 2023

NV speech students ramp up for large group state

Three different Nodaway Valley speech groups earned the top rating you can receive at the district large group contest held Saturday, Jan. 21. That pushes two of those groups on to state, this Saturday in Waukee.

The three Division I-rated groups include two in the musical theater category and one improvisation group.

The first musical theater group was Ellie Brewer and Taylor Meisenheimer. They will not be performing at the state contest. The other is “Once Upon This Island,” which features songs from the musical Nodaway Valley performed last spring.

The speech team’s four seniors — Hope Kading, Dalanie Brown, Brenna Mahoney and Ben Piearson — are all in that second musical theater group.

“We picked two songs from the musical, the opening song and then one from the middle,” said Kading. “It’s a fun category. It’s fun to sing and dance.”

Brown said the musical theater piece they’re taking is a “fun piece in a calypso style.”

“We’ve worked on it previously, so we maybe had a better chance to go on. We’ve worked so hard with it,” Brown said. “Musical theater is kind of tough because you have to do singing, dancing and acting all at once.”

Mahoney said that if you’re not prepared at one of these contests, the judges will “go to town” on you.

She described the improvisation piece moving on, by Megan McCall and Carli Stuva, as a very funny one.

“Improv is very entertaining. They get a prompt and they try to put it into a situation. They have to create a story line within a few minutes and then perform it,” Mahoney said. “It’s also difficult because a lot of the things you do, you have to remember where they are. For instance, if you have a fake table you can’t walk into a fake table. You have to remember that it’s there.”

Senior Ben Piearson is also in the musical theater group. His perspective is slightly unique. While he was in the musical when it happened, he was a cast member. Now he’s learning the songs for himself.

“I hope we will ideally do really well,” he said. “I was not in the original musical, I did the lights. I’ve had to learn a lot more but I would like to think I’m still doing pretty well. We can hopefully get it as fine-tuned as possible.”

When the state large group contest is complete, the speech team switches to the individual portion of its season.

The Nodaway Valley head speech coach is Lauren Huff. She is assisted by Sam Grubisich and volunteer coach Brenda Plymesser.

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.