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Hennepin Theatre Trust Announces 2017-2018 Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award Winners

Hennepin Theatre Trust Announces 2017-2018 Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award WinnersHennepin Theatre Trust announced the four students honored with the 2017-2018 Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award are Aliyah Busselberg (Minnetonka High School), Will Dusek (Cretin-Derham Hall High School, St. Paul), Lauren Senden (Mankato East High School) and Will Sutherland (Hill-Murray High School, St. Paul). The announcement was made Monday and Tuesday nights at the State Theatre at the 13th annual Spotlight Showcase at the historic State Theatre (805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis).

Triple Threat honorees are praised for their excellence in singing, acting and dancing as well as demonstrating community leadership, teamwork and artistry. More than 100 junior and senior high school students submitted application portfolios. The number of applicants was narrowed down to a group of 51 semi-finalists who were invited to audition for a panel of local artists and Trust staff members. Twenty-six students were named as finalists.

Following a vigorous series of evaluations, four winners were selected who will be honored with the Spotlight Education Triple Threat Broadway Experience, presented by Sun Country Airlines. The Triple Threat Broadway Experience is an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to meet with industry professionals, participate in workshops and attend Broadway shows later in June.

Aliyah Busselberg (Minnetonka High School), Will Sutherland (Hill-Murray High School, St. Paul), Lauren Senden (Mankato East High School) and Will Dusek (Cretin-Derham Hall High School, St. Paul). Photo by Nields Photography.

Aliyah Busselberg graduated summa cum laude from Minnetonka High School this spring. Throughout high school, she has had the opportunities to participate in many theater productions. Her favorite roles in musicals have been Mary Poppins from Mary Poppins, Ivy Smith from On the Town, Kate McGowan from Titanic and Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods. She has received three Spotlight awards for Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role and one Spotlight award for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role. She plans to study musical theater at Brigham Young University this fall.

William Dusek is finishing his junior year at Cretin-Derham Hall High School. Some of his favorite roles are Steven Kodaly in She Loves Me, Usnavi in In The Heights and Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street. Will has received three Spotlight awards including two Outstanding Performances in a Lead Role and an Honorable Mention in a Supporting Role. Will's plans for the future are to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre at a four year university.

Lauren Senden just completed her junior year at Mankato East High School. She has participated in multiple musicals at Mankato East, including In the Heights as Daniela Ortega, High School Musical as Sharpay Evans and Disney's Tarzan as Jane Porter. In the past few years, she has continually worked on her "Caring and Sharing" fundraising projects and hopes to transform them into a non-profit organization.

Will Sutherland graduated from Hill-Murray High School this spring. He has been performing since elementary school. He appeared in Elf Jr. as Buddy the Elf, Once Upon a Mattress as Sir Harry and The Crucible as John Proctor. Will has received three Spotlight Outstanding awards. He plans to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University this fall.

Spotlight Education engages Minnesota high school students in the performing arts, as the flagship education program of the Trust. Laura Osnes, a Minnesota native, Broadway performer and former Spotlight Education participant, is the program's ambassador.

Now completing its 13th year, Spotlight Education provides valuable educational, performing and creative experiences for high school students in 94 schools throughout the state. These activities help foster essential lifelong skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and self-expression.

Through Spotlight Education, students enrolled in their high school musical theatre programs receive professional training and guidance to enhance their artistic, technical and performing skills. The wide-ranging program's four key components are masterclasses, Critical Review, production assessments and Spotlight Showcase.

For a complete list of participating schools, please visit

Spotlight Education and Spotlight Showcase are made possible with generous support from Fredrikson & Byron, Sun Country Airlines, United Properties and Slumberland Furniture.

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