After the Audition


DeMario Rankin poses during the Homecoming Assembly.

Montana Hogan , Editor

Three years ago, the first ever Rock Island High School student auditioned for All State Theatre. He may have been unsuccessful in being cast, but he was very successful in starting a new tradition for Rocky’s theatre program. Every year since, Mrs. Foster has taken a handful of her students to All State Theatre to start their audition process. For several years, the students in the Drama Club have went through the painful audition process for All State Theatre, crossing their fingers that they would be the first to make Rock Island’s theatre history. 

That history was made three years later, in June of 2019, when Demario Rankin became the first Rock Island High School student to make All State Theatre. 

Rankin has always had a passion for theatre arts. “I needed to go to the next level, and I knew this would be a step up into my plan,” Rankin states. Auditions are the hardest part of any show. How a person auditions can make or break an actor’s role. Dorian Foster assisted her students in the audition process, one of the students being Rankin. Foster describes Demario as, “Humorous but lovely.” She went on to add, “He’s a good worker, and cares about improvement.” 

The audition for the All State show Aida was hardcore. To audition, the students needed to sing 32 measures of a musical piece, perform a one to two minute monologue, and dance to a routine on stage in front of everyone in the room. To some, that is intimidating enough to scare them off. For Rankin, the scariest part was actually getting up on stage and doing it. “What made it challenging was waiting for your number to be called and having a million scenarios running through your head.” Rankin didn’t know it at the time, but he had overcome the biggest obstacle in his life so far. 

Three weeks later, in the month of June, the cast list was sent in an email. The two hundred kids who auditioned all held their breath up to that afternoon that the fateful email was sent. When they exhaled, some students sighed in relief and others sighed in disappointment… But Rankin screamed at the top of his lungs. “I was incredibly happy,” he states. When Foster found out the good news, she was beyond ecstatic. She sent a series of selfies to her friend, showing how happy she was. “I was more than excited,” Foster claims. Rankin has been chosen to play the role of Amonasro in Aida, and Foster couldn’t be more proud. 

Ever since then, Rankin has attended thirteen hour rehearsals for four days. He was pushed to learn the show front to back in this short amount of time. Foster has not had to do much else for Demario, now that he’s past the dreadful audition phase. However, to stay in the show, Rankin will have to put in one hundred and one percent during every rehearsal. As he says, “You either make it or break, and they have no mercy taking you out.” 

All State Theatre is much different from Rock Island’s Theatre Department. The main difference is funding. Since Aida has more funding than all of shows combined, they have an advantage. They have opportunities to do more in order to make their show as professional as possible. They have more money for more stage effects, new costumes and props, and advertisement. Rankin says that “Rocky’s Theatre is amazing, and definitely prepares you for something like this.” He thanks Rock Island for preparing him, and giving him this wonderful opportunity and encourages everyone to audition for next year’s show. 

The All State show ‘Aida’ can be seen at the Illinois Theatre Festival in January. Mrs. Foster is planning on chaperoning another group of students to audition for All State Theatre next year in the month of June. For more information, reach out to Foster and attend the drama meetings every Thursday after school!