Erica Tolton, Dani Corradetti and Justin Dumke know their destinies are not held in the stars, but in themselves.
Shakespeare, whose quote is paraphrased above, would be proud of this week's trio of Montgomeryville-Lansdale Patch Whiz Kids.
To be or not to be wasn’t a question at the recent Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival high school competition at DeSales University in Center Valley.
The students in Andrea Roney’s theatre class were either going to win or lose at the festival.
They came, they performed, they conquered first place as a team for the highest total combined scores.
For all four years of the annual festival, a North Penn High School theatre team has won one of the top three spots.
North Penn is the only school to have achieved that honor.
The three Whiz Kids each performed a monologue from a Shakespeare play in three rounds of competition for different judges.
Trophies are awarded in first, second and third place for monologue, scene and team.
“I love the festival because there’s real depth in the program,” said Roney. “I think it’s great that we are the only school in the last four years to get top honors.”
Roney said North Penn has taken first place twice, and garnered second and third place in two other years.
Tolton, 17, of Colmar, performed a monologue of the character Portia in “Julius Caesar.”
“I love the people,” she said of theatre. “I love the fact that I can pretend – I know that sounds corny. But I love the setting, the theatre, the aspect and the stage. It’s not something I can specifically describe. I just love it.”
Tolton has been involved in theatre for eight years. She and Corradetti, 18, of Montgomeryville, have taken all the theater major classes at the school.
Tolton, who acts as president of the school thespian troupe, was inspired to act when, as a youth, she watched her sister perform as Cinderella in middle school.
“I saw it and I wanted to try it,” she said. “When I got to middle school, I did it and I fell in love.”
Determination and patience are two key assets to have in theatre.
“You have to be someone willing to work hard and work with others,” Tolton said. “You can’t step on stage and expect to be the best actor ever. There’s a lot more than that.”
Tolton chose to do her monologue from “Julius Caesar,” as she was already performing it as part of her drama major.
“You just have fun with it,” she said of acting.
Corradetti said she has been acting “since she was old enough to walk, talk and dance.”
Her first inspiration came when her mom took her to see “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway.
“When the Beast turned into a prince, I thought that any one thing that transforms before your eyes is a magical thing,” she said.
This year, Corradetti performed a monologue of Rosalind from “As You Like It.”
At last year’s festival, Corradetti performed a different character from the play.
“I didn’t connect with her like I did with Rosalind,” she said. “We’re both spunky people.”
She said the one thing to remember in theatre is to not let anything let you down.
“If you do, then there’s no fun in it,” she said.
Corradetti knew she was destined for theatre in the eighth grade.
“I was taking a bow (after a musical) and I never felt so alive and there was so much energy from everybody clapping,” she said. “I knew what I was doing was right and I was meant to be there.”
Dumke, 18, of Hatfield, performed one of Hamlet’s many monologues from the eponymous play.
“I had to do it for English, and it was the only thing I had, so I used that,” he said.
Dumke got involved in theatre about six years ago.
“I had a couple friends going to try out for a show in the seventh grade. They said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ So I did,” he said.
His first experience was sans anxiety.
“I didn’t start out as a main person on stage,” he said. “I didn’t feel too pressured. I think as the years went on I was more comfortable on stage.”
The male to female ratio in the North Penn theatre is 3:1, according to Roney.
Dumke said, as one of the males in the theatre, he doesn’t care what people think.
“You have to work hard,” he said. “You can’t let other people’s opinions bother you.”
The three Whiz Kids of the week believed it was their professionalism that was tantamount to winning the competition.
“It’s the fact that we love acting so much and we try hard and keep trying until we gt better and better and better,” Tolton said.
“We had a lot of fun that day,” said Corradetti.
Dumke said the team worked really hard and helped one another win the top honor.
“It was definitely a collaborative effort,” he said. “We were critiquing one another and making sure we were better and that we could raise it to the next level. We all helped each other get there.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the North Penn High School Theatre, and the 15th year of the North Penn High School Thespian Troupe.
The musical this year is “The Sound of Music.” Performances are April 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m., and April 30 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now at $10 for adults and $5 for students.
You can purchase tickets and get more information here.