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  • Mallory Lawing

A Thrilling Night of Shorts: The Golden Bear Theatre Tradition Continues

On Wednesday, September 20, Golden Bear Theatre presented its annual fall Night of Shorts. This long-standing tradition was a little more unique this year, as it was hosted by Wilson County School's Bart Barker. Throughout the night, Mt. Juliet High School students and staff members took the stage to showcase their talent through monologues, songs and scenes including the grand finale, their annual performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Although the theater department's Night of Shorts and Thriller performance has been a beloved tradition at MJHS for many years, it did not take place for a short period of time due to COVID-19 complications.

Last year, MJHS' theater teacher Mitchell Vantrease brought back the event and continued to carry that tradition into this year. Mr. Vantrease is a Watertown High School alum; "a Wilson County guy through and through", said Bart Barker. "He finds true joy in helping these students reach for the stars."

This is Mr. Vantrease's third year at MJHS, and he is committed to helping students be prepared in all aspects of life.

"I'm not just trying to train actors, I'm trying to train better kids and better citizens because the arts help with so many things beyond what's on stage... I want them to have confidence at the end of the day."

He also performed at the event, singing "Wheels of a Dream" from the Broadway musical, Ragtime.

There were also many other performances that captured the hearts of the audience. From short scenes and emotional ballads to ABBA, the Golden Bear Theatre had it all.

However, there was one performance that had everyone applauding: the Thriller performance. With Mr. Vantrease dressed as Michael Jackson in the iconic Thriller music video attire, he led his "zombie" students who were also dressed for the part, sporting torn-up and bloody ensembles.

Through rugged costumes, a thick layer of fog filling the theater, ambient red lighting and SFX makeup, the Golden Bear Theatre really brought the video to life. After the performance, the performers showed their appreciation for Mr. Vantrease through a very heartfelt rendition of "Happy Birthday" on his special day.

Also making the event extra special was the host for the night: Wilson County's very own Bart Barker who has been a public information officer for Wilson County Schools for 4 years.

He serves as the media relations representative and spokesperson. Throughout the night, he introduced the performing acts and was seen gathering footage for Wilson County School's own coverage of the event. Many were excited about his involvement in the event and he did not disappoint; he provided clever commentary and praise for the performing acts that kept the audience engaged and excited.

After another successful year of showcasing the incredible talent within our school, it's clear that the Golden Bear Theatre really knows how to put on a thrilling night.

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