The 400 Club:
Red Dragon Players of Austin High present landmark production
[Spring Awakening, School Edition, December 9 - 11, 30-31]
by Michael Corcoran
When Billy Dragoo was hired to replace his retiring mentor Larry Preas as head of the theater department at Austin High School in 1993, he noticed one difference there than at other Texas high schools he had worked at or visited. “At Austin High, it’s cool to be a theater kid,” he said. "It's a welcoming environment, not a closed shop."
You won’t hear taunts of “drama queens” or “theater sissies” at Austin High, where the rich stage tradition is a source of Maroon pride.
The AHS Red Dragon Players, whose alumni includes actor Zachary Scott (Mildred Pierce), Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle) and Emmy-winning actress Valerie Mahaffey (Northern Exposure), is one of the nation’s oldest continuously active drama troupes west of the Mississippi.
While the school’s football team has not won a playoff game since 1957, the theater department has won three state championships (two in the past three years), in the UIL one-act play competition. The reputation goes beyond the state, as theater companies in New York City often look to Austin High to test-stage musicals that have been adapted for high school theater.