Metri Lyons of Bay St. Louis will be competing at the state level for the first time this weekend.
He'll be on stage, though, not an athletic field.
"I'm nervous," he said. "It's scary, but I'm excited."
The 16-year old -- in his first stage production with Lynn Meadows Discovery Center's WINGS performing arts program -- is making the role of Puck his own.
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Lyons said he likes "acting like a different person" and the role suits him.
The troupe will present an offbeat production of
Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Eve" at the Mississippi Theater Association State Festival in Meridian this weekend.
Two schools from South Mississippi -- Picayune and Ocean Springs -- won their district competitions and will vie for state honors.
Rick Sawyer, who recently took over for longtime OSHS theater director Sandra Camphor, said they will present "Ralph Roister Doister." Sawyer described the play as "the 16th-century equivalent of a Will Ferrill movie."
"It's really quite difficult."
Senior Emma Frieze is the director of the cast of 10 actors and tech crew of 11.
The challenge will be to get all the stage props set in 10 minutes, limit the performance to an hour and return all the props into a 10-foot-square area in the same time frame.
"It's awesome to go up there and compete and show other people what we've come to create," said Aubry Benefield, 17, the stage director for the WINGS crew.
Benefield and his sister Lauren, 16, have been to state before. Lauren said she enjoys meeting people who "share the same passion as you."
"You not only get to teach other people what you're doing, but you're also learning things from others that you're watching perform," she said.
Both performed Thursday in front of eight colleges recruiting theater students.
"It's honestly a lot of fun to show what you've learned and taught yourself in trying to get these colleges' attention," Aubry said.
Peyton Glidewell is going to his third state competition.
"I think I'm more excited than nervous at this point," he said after the final rehearsal on Wednesday. "I'm just ready to do the show and have fun with it."
Costume designer and actor Cason Miles said the event is "doing what you love not just for yourself, but for other people."
Two Coast groups will be traveling to Atlanta for the Junior Theater Festival.
The event is less of a competition, said Cliff Thompson of Ocean Springs, whose Triple Threat Academy is making the trip along with a second group from WINGS.
This event limits entrants to a 15-minute performance. Thompson's group will do a segment from "Seussical JR."
This is the first time he will take a group of kids on the road.
"It's a little tense because it is a competition," said Tonya Hayes, director of the WINGS program. "But I tell the kids that's not why we do it. We do it to learn and to share it.
"Taking it to competition is just icing on the cake."