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THE ROAD TO THE NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS: And The Nevada High School Musical Theatre Award Winners Are...


Jess here. This weekend I was presented with the opportunity to cover the Nevada High School Musical Theatre Awards (NV-HSMTA) at The Smith Center in Las Vegas! It was an amazing experience spending time with the nominees, coaches, choreographers and judges, as well as emcees Myron Martin, President and CEO of The Smith Center, and Las Vegas' own consummate entertainer and resident headliner, Clint Holmes.

The history of the NV-HSMTA competition dates back to 2013, and represents the regional phase of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmy Awards), which were established by James Nederlander in 2009. The Jimmy Awards are a yearly competitive event held in New York City each June. Regional participants must be nominated in order to take part in the competition. This year, 17 students who played lead roles in their high schools' musicals from across the state of Nevada were nominated by their theatre teachers to represent their schools in the NV-HSMTA. The nominated participants are required to sing a song that recreates, and highlights their lead role from their school's production. Of the 17 nominees, two will win the competition and be awarded the title of Best Actor and Best Actress for their region. These two winners, along with all of the other regional winners will then travel to New York City, with all expenses paid, to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. After 10 days of workshops and master classes, the program culminates with the nominees taking the stage at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre. For this final phase of the competition, the two winners chosen will be awarded Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress and each will take home the coveted Jimmy Award!

The Nevada regional qualifying round was packed full of excitement with NV-HSMTA activities filling the Smith Center's entire weekend calendar. Saturday was a day of prep, with coaching sessions and group number rehearsals bringing all of the nominated participants together. Four distinguished coaches; Bruce Ewing from Las Vegas' iconic production of The Phantom of the Opera, multi-media entertainment superstar Susan Anton, Ashley Loren from Baz Luhrmann's, BAZ, and Rachel Tyler, cast member of Showstoppers and Le Reve at the Wynn, spent the entire day working one on one with the nominees, providing guidance and helping them to fine-tune their personal solos, as well as teaching them two all-encompassing group numbers in preparation for the big event on Sunday afternoon. The nominees also had the privilege of working with music director extraordinaire, Keith Thompson, and stellar choreographers Noah Rivera and Louisa Lemos.

The Smith Center was a buzz with anticipation as the weekend program finale featured the 17 nominees taking the stage, and dazzling the audience with their energetic performances! The show opened with a group number, "On Broadway" complete with expert choreography that the nominees had learned in under a day! This was followed by each student performing their personal solo. Nine musical theatre productions were represented by schools across Nevada, eight of which were from the Las Vegas valley, and one, a long distance newcomer from Panaca, Nevada; Lincoln County High School. The audience was treated to a wide variety of songs, with the school/production/performers list including:

Bishop Gorman High School - Thoroughly Modern Millie

Ria Joshi as Millie Dillmount and Daniel Shim as Jimmy Smith

Bonanza High School - The Addams Family

Ariana Castaneda as Wednesday Addams and Devon Mangani as Gomez Addams

Calvary Chapel Christian School - Peter Pan

Juliana Puckett as Peter Pan and Joseph Frizzell as Captain Hook

Centennial High School - The Addams Family

Selena Caballero as Wednesday Addams and Nathan Sink as Gomez Addams

Green Valley High School - Nice Work If You Can Get It

Adelynn Tourondel as Billie Bendix and Jake Van Orden as Jimmy Winter

Lincoln County High School - Seussical the Musical

Abigail Loverme as Mayzie La Bird

Las Vegas Academy - Cinderella

Nikole York as Marie and David Wade as Topher

Silverado College Preparatory - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Yesenia Gonzalez as the Narrator and Abraham Hunsaker as Joseph

West Career and Technical Academy - Violet

Tyler Coomes as Violet and Sam Danielson Jr. as Flick

As the final student finished their solo, all of the nominees once again came together as a group and performed "Give My Regards to Broadway." It was the perfect ending. The participants were all fantastic, and they were celebrated with an enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience that brought the curtain to a close.

A panel of esteemed judges were in attendance for the program finale, including Tracey Langran Corea, Associate Choreographer for the Broadway production of AIDA, Nicole Pryor Dernersesian, who performed in over 2600 shows for the Las Vegas company of The Phantom of the Opera, Christine Hudman, Rizzo from the National Tour of Grease, Dr. Kristy Love, PhD from The Platters, and Torrey Russell, Founder of A Source of Joy Theatricals/Broadway in the H.O.O.D.

At the end of the program, after deliberation and scoring, the judges' decision was announced. The Best Actor Award was given to Nathan Sink from Centennial High School's production of The Addams Family for his rendition of "Not Today," and Adelynn Tourondel, singing "Someone To Watch Over Me" from Green Valley High School's Nice Work If You Can Get It, was awarded Best Actress. Two Spotlight Award winners were also named; Nikole York and David Wade, singing "Impossible" and "Loneliness of Evening," respectively, from Las Vegas Academy of the Arts' production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Nathan and Adelynn will be traveling to New York City in June to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards where they will compete for their chance to win a Jimmy Award in the finale! Break legs, we'll be rooting for you!

"Gee, I'd like to be on some marquee, all twinkling lights!" -Stephen Sondheim

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