Best in the Fest: The Saint Ignatius Harlequins Earn Statewide Recognition

Brooke Ghaly

The Harlequins took the stage to perform their musical, The Addams Family, at the University of Illinois for one final run in the Illinois High School Theatre Festival on Friday, January 13. The group was presented with the highest award entitled, Best in the Fest.

Photo from Saint Ignatius College Prep

The Harlequins were one of 14 groups in the whole state chosen to showcase their piece at the fest. The process for selecting a show involves production respondents who come and watch all of the performances that are hoping for a spot at the Theatre Festival. After the show, the respondents have a “talk-back” session with the entire cast and crew, where they explain different aspects of the show: the set design, character choices, and even choreography. The Harlequins’ talk-back session was on opening night, and they got an exciting email two weeks later; they earned a spot to perform! Senior Lucy Haymaker states, “Getting the email that we were selected was incredible; it was the perfect result of all of our hard work not only this year but for our entire high school careers.” After practicing the show since September, the hard work paid off. Not only did the Harlequins receive accolades and applause after each performance, but they had the opportunity to do it all again. 

This is the first year since January 2020 that the fest will be in full swing. It involves workshops, activities, and numerous performances. The Harlequins were going to attend the fest as students but now got to bring the whole cast and crew together in order to perform. They performed at Foellinger Hall at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which involved a lengthy transportation process. First, they disassembled certain larger set pieces in order to fit them in a truck. The Harlequins loaded up the truck on Wednesday January 11, the day before they left for the fest. On Thursday, January 12, they were clapped out by the Saint Ignatius Community as they made their way downstate. When they arrived, they unloaded their set pieces onto the stage and acclimated themselves to the new space. Every single member of the cast or crew was busy working on hanging up lights, smoothing out wigs, or reciting vocal exercises. Friday morning started at 5:30 AM, when the cast started getting into hair and makeup with crew assistance. The performance ended up being postponed from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM due to a bomb threat, but the Harlequins remained ready and continued preparing. When the overture began, the chaos of the morning washed away and an excited energy filled Foellinger Hall. Director Kevin Bellie was presented with the Best in the Fest award, which is the highest award a troupe can receive at the Fest. A plaque now hangs in the Mclaughlin area to commemorate a weekend of a lifetime for these students. 


Illinois Theatre Festival Website