South Pacific passes flame of tradition

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Lauren Patton ’20 receiving the legendary candle after the second showing of South Pacific. The candle was passed on to Lauren from Jayson Klaumann ’19 and Taylea Mills ’19. Photo contributed by Michele Patton.

Every year as the annual fall production begins, traditions are carried on. Seniors sign the boards at the end of the night, prayers are shared, and fan mail is delivered. However, out of all the traditions the theater production has to offer, probably the most well known is the passing of the candle.

Every year, a junior who has shown exceptional theatrical ability and who has been beyond dedicated to the show is chosen and presented with “The Candle.” The following year as a senior, it is that student’s job to choose a new junior to pass this candle on to, and so the tradition continues. The candle is meant to represent seniors passing on the theater to the underclassmen and has been a tradition for the past several years.

Last year the recipients of the candle were Jayson Klaumann ’19 and Taylea Mills ’19.

“It is kind of a cool but strange feeling to be able to pass the candle down,” Klaumann said. “I remember watching old plays and musicals and witnessing others get the candle, so it is a little strange to be the one doing it this year along with Taylea.”

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Lauren Patton ’20 is all smiles after receives the candle. “When I got the candle I held it close to my chest and kept it there for the rest of the night,” Lauren said. Photo contributed by Michele Patton.

After months of late-night practices in preparation for the production of South Pacific, when it came time for the Saturday night show, they knew exactly who would earn the candle.  After bows were taken and the applause had died down, Klaumann and Mills presented Lauren Patton ’20 with the candle.

“Getting the candle honestly meant so much to me. I know it’s just a candle but it really represents something amazing,” Patton said. “Only one or two people get it every year and you look back on the years and realize that I’m now a part of that line of people.”

According to Mills, the decision to present the candle to Patton wasn’t a difficult one.

“It was pretty much a no brainer. Lauren has been in it the longest and has devoted the most time into the musical,” Mills said. “Not to say that the other people didn’t try but she stood out the most.”

For Patton, receiving the candle made her feel validated as a performer and appreciated.

“I’m so appreciative that I earned the candle this year and am excited to pass it down as a senior,” Patton said. “Receiving the candle warmed my heart and it honestly meant so much to me, it meant people really do see the hard work and dedication I put into the theater department and just how much I love it and the people in it.”