Lancers Beat the Odds at DTASC


A group of ten Lancers representing every grade level came together to participate in this year’s Drama Teachers Association of Southern California (DTASC) Fall Drama Festival, a theater competition for high school students.

This student run group had one month to prepare for the competition, squeezing in their rehearsals during lunchtime. But their hard work and determination paid off, earning them 5th place out of forty other groups for the entire musical theater category. Click HERE to see them in action.

DTASC was an absolute trip.

A post shared by Zac Mundwiller (@zacmundwiller) on

The members of the team included: Senior Kristen Wisneski, senior Zac Mundwiller, junior Emma Roth, junior Alyssa Hernandez, junior Sara Warner, Senior Kylie Patterson, junior Sophie Fox, sophomore Haley Hallman, freshman Jade McGlynn, and junior Rianny Vasquez. Most of the members had some experience in choir and/or theater.

In previous years, former TOHS teacher Gary Fritzen was the DTASC advisor for the school. But with Fritzen gone this year, TOHS was left without an advisor and without one, a school’s drama department cannot participate in the competition. With no one available to step up to the task, the chances of TOHS participating in this year’s DTASC seemed bleak. But that didn’t stop Kristen Wisneski from making it happen.

Wisneski has participated in DTASC since the 6th grade, usually performing in the monologue category. Last year she even won first place for her performance on two monologue pieces. When she heard that TOHS may not participate in this year’s DTASC competition, she jumped into action, eventually recruiting English teacher Felix McGinnis as the new DTASC advisor.

After gathering a team of ten group members, Wisneski searched for a musical that would fit the needs of the cast before finally deciding on the musical Hair. Wisneski used her artistic license to condense the entire play into an eight minute version of it, as well as choreographing all the moves .

“I went through the entire show and picked out the lines that stood out to me most and then began weaving them together,” she said. “It was a ton of fun for me to be able to arrange and direct my own vision and to pick and choose what worked for and what didn’t with my peers.”

Along with piecing together the script, Wisneski also choreographed all the dance moves. The one month time limit leading up to the competition put a creative constraint on the group, but Wisneski’s choice of play proved to be the right fit for the cast.

“I figured we could pull off Hair because we had the right type of people for the cast… it only really required one boy.”

And that one boy was senior Zac Mundwiller, a TOHS all-male dancer and first time DTASC participant with no former choir or theater experience.

“It was definitely out of my comfort zone,” said Mundwiller, reflecting on his experience with DTASC. “This was like a crash course for singing and theater and everything because I had to cram in new things and techniques in like a month.”

Despite being out of his element, the experience left a lasting impact on Mundwiller as performer, giving him a newfound appreciation for theater.

“The whole experience was just something phenomenal. The people that I saw, the skill level of some of them— absolutely beyond anything I’d seen.”

The night before the competition, the team held a small performance in the TOHS Performing Arts Center at 7 PM for those interested in seeing their musical theater piece.

The morning of the event, the group met on campus at 7 AM before heading off to James Monroe High School in the valley, where the competition would begin at 8 AM.

The Lancer team made it to the top five of the musical theater category, advancing to the semifinals and eventually placing fifth.

“I could not be prouder of all the performers in our group,” said Wisneski. “The amount of growth that I saw from day one to the final hours of the competition was extraordinary.”