From Stage to Life: Cedar Hill’s Tianta Harrison Inspires with Her Theatrical Wisdom and Award-Winning Leadership

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Tianta Harrison

Tianta Harrison once said, “Life is like a play.”

Now, the Cedar Hill High School assistant director in its growing theatre department is getting a standing ovation, as are her award-winning students.

“Life is like a play, but instead of acting out the story, you are living in it,” Harrison said. “It doesn’t matter how long you live, but how well you live. A good life, like a good play, is filled with gripping twists and turns, ups and downs, and, most importantly, a compelling protagonist others will root for. So, how are you living your life?”

Two years ago, Harrison came to Cedar Hill. As enrollment in the theatre department increased, she assumed the role of directing musicals and the annual one-act play for the University Interscholastic League competition.

Along with increased enrollment in classes has come a higher demand for participation in annual musicals and more invitations to perform/serve in various community events, such as the Irma P. Hall Awards.

This year, we were able to participate in three awards shows and received a record number of Broadway Dallas nominations that included Best Musical (“Seussical”),” Harrison said.

“My goal is to always seek opportunities for students to learn and grow, and one way is through student directors, student music directors, choreographers, etc.”

With the department’s growth, she also implemented the RCA House System to allow scholars to continue connecting with one another across the different classrooms and provide student leadership positions.

HONORED BY CASA MANANA AND MORE

As a result of such leadership, Harrison was awarded the Betty Buckley Outstanding Educator Award by Casa Manana during the Fort Worth theatre’s annual Betty Buckley Awards for achievement in high school theatre. It is the first time the award has been handed out.

“I am truly honored, and being the first to receive this award is extra special,” she said.
In addition, she was named the Cedar Hill High School Teacher of the Year.

“Being named CHHS’s Teacher of the Year was a total surprise. I will be forever grateful to have the opportunity to represent the flagship and fine arts department,” she said.

Along with her honor from Casa Manana, the department received numerous nominations and a win in the annual Dallas High School Musical Theatre Awards, as well as a pair of wins in the Lyric Theatre’s Schmidt and Jones Awards. Maria Luiza Viana was named Best Featured Performer for her role as the Flapper Ancestor in “The Addams Family” by both organizations.

“She amplified the aspect of theatre that there are no small parts in a cast, and ensemble characters have a significant impact on storytelling,” Harrison said. “I am extremely proud of the work she brought to this character and cannot wait to see what the future holds for her in the theatre community.”

Also honored by the Lyric was Anya Guidry as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Alice Beineke in “The Addams Family.”

“I love that the department is getting the overdue recognition and support it deserves,” Harrison said. “Our department is truly a hidden gem, and I love that our scholars’ work is being seen and recognized.”

At the DHSMT Awards, Cedar Hill received additional nominations for: “Seussical” – Oustanding Musical, Lead Performer (Shalom Oyawe), Supporting Performer (Lathan Kidd) Choreography, Orchestra, Ensemble, Set Design, “The Addams Family” – Costume.

LOOKING AHEAD

Harrison said her goal is simply to continue to seek, provide, and seize opportunities for scholars to be seen and heard.

“It’s my mission. If that means we are able to perform at Music Hall again as a Best Musical nominee, submit a UIL short film, or perform our annual musical for our community, we are actively showing up and showing out,” she said. “My hope is every scholar who passes through the program leaves a better human with a better understanding of self because, at the end of the day, we have nothing to prove, only to share.”

MIDLOTHIAN A WINNER ALSO

Midlothian High School’s Theatre Department was also honored at the Dallas High School Musical Theatre Awards with its performance of “Chicago: Teen Edition.

The show won the Outstanding Director award, Chastity Kennedy.

Additional nominations for Midlothian, a school record eight in all, were Outstanding Musical, Orchestra, Costume, Sound Design, Crew/Technical Execution, Lead Performer (Gabrielle Rollins), and Supporting Performer (Tristan Garcia).

Midlothian Heritage High School’s “Big Fish” production was nominated for Choreography.

Other DHSMT area nominees included:

Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, “Anything Goes,” Orchestra, Costume, Lead Performer (Sydney Haygood).

Waxahachie, “Beauty and the Beast,” Stage Management.

Mansfield, “Mean Girls: High School Edition,” Featured Performer (Serenity Ferguson).

 

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters

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