Two SpotLight Student Winners Selected to Represent Minnesota at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards


Hennepin Theatre Trust announced today that two students in the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program, Emily Nies from White Bear Lake High School and Daniel Piering from Wayzata High School, were selected to represent Minnesota at the National High School Musical Theatre "Jimmy" Awards to be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 25, 2012 at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City. John Jamison of Southwest High School was also named Triple Threat Breakout Performer. The results were announced during the Trust's June 11 SpotLight Showcase in Minneapolis, an annual celebration honoring students from 56 Minnesota high schools for excellence in musical theatre. Last year, Ryan McCartan from Minnetonka High School won the national Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor.

Emily Nies and Daniel Piering participate through their respective high schools in the Trust's SpotLight Program, our flagship educational initiative. The two were chosen through a vigorous series of auditions and evaluations that resulted in their being selected as SpotLight Triple Threat Award winners, an honor that includes the privilege of going forward to the National Awards. They and a parent will travel to New York courtesy of the Trust, Dougherty Staffing Solutions and Sun Country Airlines.

Emily Nies will be a senior at White Bear Area Lake High School and has performed with Ashland Productions, the University of Minnesota Opera Company and program spokesperson Linda Eder's SpotLight choir during Eder's December show at the Pantages Theatre. She is a part of O.U.T.T.A.K.E.S. through Ashland Productions, a group of young leaders dedicated to bridging communities through performing arts initiatives. She works primarily with Educational Outreach visiting elementary schools to get young kids more involved with theatre.

Daniel Piering recently graduated from Wayzata High School and will be attending the Guthrie B.F.A. program this fall. He has also performed with Theater Latté Da, Children's Theatre Artist Training, Blue Water Theatre and last year's "Croon and Swoon" SpotLight Cabaret. He was a 2012 Minnesota Public Radio Varsity Featured Round Artist, a Minnesota Scholar of Distinction in Theatre Arts, a National Honor Society member and a Wayzata Student Council Executive Board Member. He has also studied the cello for eight years and was a part of the Top 12 Triple Threat Finalists last year.

A new award this year, the Triple Threat Breakout Performer, was also given to John Jamison of Southwest High School in Minneapolis. Jamison is new to theatre and yet his talent, dedication and passion impressed the Triple Threat judges. An anonymous Hennepin Theatre Trust Donor is supporting Jamison's development by funding a trip to New York City to see several Broadway shows, meet with casting agents at Telsey and Company and visit with acting and vocal coaches. A recent Southwest graduate, he was also an outstanding sprinter there.

As part of the national process, Nies and Piering will get private coaching, participate in master classes and rehearsals and compete for the opportunity to receive the national Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress and Actor. Students also receive opportunities for merit scholarships, professional advancement and other prizes. For more information, visit

Two 2011 students represented Minnesota at last year's National High School Musical Theatre Awards including Ryan McCartan, who graduated last year from Minnetonka High School. He has since moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in TV, film and theatre while working as a production assistant at Universal Studios Hollywood. Sarah Cartwright, who graduated last year from Eastview High School in Apple Valley, is now a sophomore at Northwestern University in Evanston studying theatre.

The 2012 national representatives, Nies and Piering, were chosen from among this group of Triple Threat finalists: Ryan Fargo from Minnetonka High School, Karl Amundson from Minnetonka High School, John Jamison from Southwest High School (Minneapolis), Dylan Rugh from White Bear Lake Area High School, Danny Adams from Totino-Grace High School (Fridley), Maggie Matcjek from Wayzata High School, Morgan Clarkson from Cretin Derham Hall (Saint Paul), Kayla Peters from Chaska High School, Jacqueline Schneider from Hill Murray School (Maplewood) and Grace Chermak from Wayzata High School.

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