Review: 2023 Triangle Rising Star Awards

Hosted by Clay Aiken with a special appearance from Beth Leavel.

By: May. 19, 2023

The Triangle Rising Star Awards is a regional competition that brings together high school musical theater students from Central and Eastern North Carolina to perform and compete for the chance to represent the Triangle in The National High School Musical Theater (otherwise known as The Jimmy) Awards in New York City on June 26th. The national competition celebrates outstanding student performances in high school musical productions from all over the United States. This year, students from 34 local high schools submitted applications in the hopes of being selected as a Triangle Rising Stars' Top 20 finalist.

The show began with a rousing medley of songs that called just for the occasion. Among them are 'One Night Only' from Dreamgirls, 'Tonight (Quintet)' from West Side Story, 'Oh, What a Night' from Jersey Boys, and 'Comedy Tonight' from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Through the latter number, all 20 finalists are introduced. Afterwards, Megan Rindoks, who is DPAC's director of community engagement, came out to thank all of the event's sponsors. Finally, she welcomed to the stage the host with the most, Raleigh native, musical theatre performer, and American Idol alum, Clay Aiken. He did a wonderful job as emcee.

When it came to the performances from the finalists, quick introduction videos of each of them played where they talked about what they love about musical theatre and/or the characters they're in contention for. I must say that this year's finalists might just be the most impressive slate I've seen yet. Everyone really brought their A-game to the table. There's hardly a weak link among them. There were some humorous performances such as Heritage High School's Sarah Praught as Janis Ian in Mean Girls; Longleaf School of the Arts' Juliana Robertson as The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods; and Fuquay Varina High School's Dominic Sicola as Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. There were some energetic performances such as Weaver Academy's Aidan Armstrong as the title character in The SpongeBob Musical; Weaver Academy's Laylah Cooper-Holman as Sandy Cheeks in The SpongeBob Musical; Weaver Academy's Richmond Parris as Plankton in The SpongeBob Musical; Green Hope High School's Shreya Ravi as Wednesday in The Addams Family; Heritage High School's Braden Shepstead as Damian Leigh in Mean Girls; and Broughton High School's Max Templeton as Damian Leigh in Mean Girls. There were some heartfelt performances such as Longleaf School's Kaleb Bell as The Baker in Into the Woods (who ended up winning the award for Best Dancer); Enloe High School's Ryan Gregory as Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid; and Athens Drive High School's Timire Leak as Horton in Seussical the Musical. Although there were several performances who literally blew the roof off such as Southern School of Energy and Sustainability's Serenity Burr as Celie in The Color Purple; Broughton High School's Sheba Gage as Regina George in Mean Girls; Southern School of Energy and Sustainability's Christian Holloway as Mister in The Color Purple; Enloe High School's Ella Ludwig as Ursula in The Little Mermaid; Durham School of the Arts' Zari Alexandria McIntosh as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago; and CE Jordan High School's Ellie O'Connell as Regina George in Mean Girls.

After everyone performed individually, they all came back as a group to give their rendition of 'A Little More Homework' from 13 the Musical, which finished off Act I. Following an intermission, Clay Aiken introduced a special guest by acknowledging how she is currently the only North Carolianian to have ever won a Tony Award for performing, Beth Leavel. She sang a killer rendition of Stephen Sondheim's classic song from Follies, 'Broadway Baby.' Then, she joined Clay to present a handful of awards. Best Student Orchestra went to Athens High School's production of Seussical. Best Set Design went to Longleaf High School's production of Into the Woods. Best Costume Design went to Enloe High School's production of The Little Mermaid. Best Lighting Design went to Knightdale High School's production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. Best Choreography went to Durham School of the Arts' production of Chicago. Best Ensemble went to Wakefield High School's production of Sleeping Beauty. Best Musical went to Heritage High School's production of Mean Girls.

Returning from last year's competition were winners Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson, where they both performed 'What You Mean to Me' from Finding Neverland. The 20 finalists were introduced one more time, and the two winners were revealed to be Enloe High School's Noah Colvin and Heritage High School's Lilly Pritchard. Colvin, who played Sebastian in his school's production of The Little Mermaid, performed a fun rendition of the Oscar-winning hit, 'Under the Sea.' Pritchard, who played Cady Heron in her school's production of Mean Girls, was very charismatic during her rendition of 'It Roars.' The night ended with everyone performing the title song from Footloose.

It almost feels like fate for Noah and Lilly to win. The former is an alumni of the same alma mater Laurel Harris went to before she went on to Broadway. The latter played the same role that 2014 Triangle Rising Stars Best Actress winner English Bernhardt recently wrapped up playing in the national tour. To Noah Colvin and Lilly Pritchard, I hope the two of you have a great time at next month's Jimmy Awards. Be sure to go into that competition, give it your all, and make the Triangle area proud.


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Single tickets Now on Sale for Theatre Raleigh's BARBECUE

Single tickets are now on sale for Theatre Raleigh’s production of 'Barbecue,' a comedy by award-winning playwright Robert O'Hara. Learn more about how to get tickets here!

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Wilmington's Opera House Theatre Company Announces 2024 Season

Opera House Theatre Company has announced its 2024 season, celebrating 39 years of producing live theatre in Wilmington, North Carolina at Historic Thalian Hall featuring a variety of titles including some classics and Wilmington premieres!

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The North Carolina Theatre Names Eric Woodall as New Executive Artistic Director

The North Carolina Theatre names Eric Woodall as the new Executive Artistic Director. With 30 years of experience in the field, Woodall's leadership promises a bright future for Raleigh's premier professional theatre.

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Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood: Asking For Trouble Tour Comes to the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts in January

Get ready for an evening of sidesplitting laughter as Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood take the stage in a one-night-only uproarious live show, Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Asking for Trouble, January 4, 2024 at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts. Learn more about the show and how to get tickets here!

From This Author - Jeffrey Kare

Jeffrey Kare currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. Having been born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jeffrey took interest in live theater at age 11. He also had the great pleasure of seeing show... Jeffrey Kare">(read more about this author)


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