CATA junior takes third in Shakespeare competition

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 07:03 PM

Middle and High school students from the region gave Laurence Olivier a run for his money Tuesday at the 29th annual Shakespeare Competition, held at Wingate University. 

Students from Central Academy of Technology and Arts, Piedmont High School, Parkwood Middle School, Weddington Middle School represented Union County Public Schools at the competition. Students from Monroe and East Union Middle Schools were also entered into the competition. 

After the preliminary competition, CATA students Morgan Miller, Patrick Herring, Davonte Straing, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe and Thomas Schmidt advanced to the final round. 

Junior Obi-Melekwe came in third in the competition. 

"Of course, I was really surprised," Obi-Melekwe said. 

She performed the jailer's daughter monologue from Act II, Scene 4 of "Two Noble Kinsmen." 

Obi-Melekwe explained that she often does very serious dramatic pieces and wanted a change. 

"I wanted to do something a little different," she said. 

Larry Robinson, a theater teacher at CATA, was pleased with the performances. 

"I'm very happy with this group," Robinson said. He added that he was very proud of them. 

He felt Obi-Melekwe's third-place finish was "very deserved." 

Many of the students are also working on the Union County Performance Ensemble production of "Footloose" and other projects. The group practiced for the performance off and on for about three weeks, Robinson said. 

Robert Doak, a professor of English at Wingate University and director of the competition, brought the competition to Wingate 29 years ago. The first year it had 30 to 40 students and it has grown since then, he said. 

He has been surprised by the competition's growth.

Doak was approached by the Charlotte branch of the English-Speaking Union of the United States about bringing the competition to Wingate. 

The event is supported by the Union County Community Arts Council Arts in the Schools Grant Program and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.