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Hennepin Theatre Trust Announces Its 2017-2018 Spotlight Education Jimmy Award And Triple Threat Award Finalists

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Hennepin Theatre Trust announced its 2017-2018 finalists for the Jimmy Awards and Triple Threat Awards. Twenty-six high school musical theatre students have been recognized for their accomplishments and community leadership while participating in the Trust's Spotlight Education program.

New this year, two finalists will be announced on Thursday, June 7 to represent Minnesota at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (the Jimmy Awards) - a national celebration of outstanding student achievement, recognizing individual artistry in vocal, dance and acting performance and elevating the importance of theatre arts education in schools.

The Jimmy Awards are presented by The Broadway League Foundation. The week-long experience includes rehearsals, master classes, private coaching and interviews with theater professionals. The week culminates with the live awards show on Monday, June 25 at Broadway's Minkoff Theatre in New York City, where the Jimmy Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress are presented.

Four Triple Threat Award winners will be announced at the 13th annual Spotlight Showcase June 11-12 at the historic State Theatre (805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis). The winners each earn the Triple Threat Broadway Experience, presented by Sun Country Airlines, an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to meet with industry professionals, participate in workshops and attend Broadway shows.

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.

The Trust recognizes outstanding individual achievement through participation with the Jimmy Awards and naming Triple Threat Award winners for junior or senior high school students who excel in singing, acting and dancing. More than 100 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.

The 12 finalists performing on Monday, June 11 are:

· Jack Bechard (Eagan High School)

· Bella Blackshaw (Southwest High School, Minneapolis)

· Myia Butler (Shakopee High School)

· William Dusek (Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul)

· Meghan Hayes (Rosemount High School)

· Luke Henson (Minnetonka High School)

· Alex Moronge (Coon Rapids High School)

· Mila New (Eagan High School)

· Lauren Senden (Mankato East High School)

· Mitchell Shaw (Bemidji High School)

· Jillian Sjoquist (Thomas Jefferson Senior High School, Bloomington)

· Benjamin Valerius (Stillwater High School)


The 14 finalists performing on Tuesday, June 12 are:

· Aliya Busselberg (Minnetonka High School)

· Britta Cowan (Chaska High School)

· Ella Dolynchuk (Edina High School)

· Jackson Grove (Alexandria Area High School)

· Jonah Harrison (St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul)

· Chloe Hart (Simley High School, Inver Grove Heights)

· Courtney Helgemo (Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School, Eden Prairie)

· Sisloob Lo (White Bear Lake Area High)

· Ileri Okikiolu (Farmington High School)

· Nathan Rowbotham (Minnetonka High School)

· Katrina Soholt (Washburn High School)

· Will Sutherland (Hill-Murray, Maplewood)

· Christian Tesch (Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School, Eden Prairie)

· Gabriel Woodard (Saint John's Preparatory School, Collegeville)


Now in 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.

Spotlight Showcase runs June 11-12 at the historic State Theatre and highlights the hard work and talents of 1,600 of the state's finest musical theatre students and programs with live performances. Schools and students are also recognized for excellence in categories including individual performance, overall productions and technical achievement.

The two-night event celebrates the theme of "Telling Stories" because, for many students, theatre is a place to connect and tell their stories. "Telling Stories" is brought to life through song, dance and stories from current Spotlight students, alumni and special guests.

Tickets for Spotlight Showcase are on sale now at the State Theatre Box Office, charge-by-phone at (800) 982-2787 and online at

A limited number of "Friends of Spotlight" tickets, which includes priority seating and a donation to the Spotlight Education program, are available for $25 to $100 by ordering at

All pricing includes a Building Restoration Fee of $1.50.

For a complete list of participating schools, please visit

Spotlight Education is made possible by Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Sun Country Airlines and Slumberland Furniture.

Connect with Spotlight Education online at:

Facebook: /SpotlightMN

Twitter: @spotlightMN

Instagram: #spotlight_MN


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