Review: 2024 DPAC Rising Star Awards

Is the future of Broadway among this year's finalists?

By: May. 10, 2024
Review: 2024 DPAC Rising Star Awards
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The DPAC 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 24th. The national competition celebrates outstanding student performances in high school musical productions from all over the United States. This year, students from 31 local high schools submitted applications in the hopes of being selected as a DPAC Rising Stars' Top 20 finalist.

The show began with host Clay Aiken coming out onstage in front of the curtain to introduce the show. Following that came the start of a clever rendition of ‘A Musical’ from Something Rotten!, which featured some modified lyrics for the occasion. Among the lyrics that did stay the same was “the crowd goes wild everytime,” which proved to be very relevant throughout the night. The audience got so rowdy at times, it was hard to hear what everyone onstage was saying. Luckily, it wasn’t that big of a compromise regarding my enjoyment. Through that 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, Aiken came up to take over the rest of the ceremony.

When it came to the performances from the finalists, I was so in awe of each of them. There were four separate medleys consisting of 5 students, and they all performed together in such creative ways. Several performances were amusing like CE Jordan High School’s Danica Laan as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast; Wakefield High School’s Miley Perrott as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls; and Longleaf School of the Arts’s Amari James Wynne as The Lion in The Wiz. Several performances were heartfelt like Green Level High School’s Dylan Georges as Grover in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical and Heritage High School’s Isaiah Knight as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family. Yet everyone else proves to be quite the powerhouses such as Weaver Academy’s Aidan Armstrong as William Shakespeare in Something Rotten!; Durham Academy’s Riley Auman as The Witch in  Into The Woods; Longleaf School of the Arts’s Aydan Eatchel as Marius in Les Misérables; Enloe High School’s Emma Gaddy as Fantine in Les Misérables; RJ Reynolds High School’s Trinity Hall as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!; Durham School of the Arts’s Nate Jones as The Baker in Into The Woods; Weaver Academy’s Sabine Langer as Bea Bottom in Something Rotten!; Apex Friendship High School’s Gabriela Martínez as Wednesday in The Addams Family; Carrboro High School’s Mary Mask as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes; and Broughton High School’s Max Templeton as Franklin Hart in 9 to 5, The Musical.

After everyone performed individually, they all came back to close out Act I with an energetic rendition of ‘Time to Dance’ from The Prom. Following a 20-minute intermission, they all opened Act II with quite an effective rendition of the opening number from Sweeney Todd. Then came time for the awards presentations. Among the winners were Knightdale High School’s The SpongeBob Musical; for Best Student Orchestra; Carrboro High School’s Anything Goes for Best Choreography; Durham School of the Arts’ Into the Woods for Best Set Design; Apex Friendship High School’s The Addams Family for Best Costume Design; Green Level High School’s The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical for Best Lighting Design; Weaver Academy’s Something Rotten! for Best Ensemble; and Enloe High School’s Les Misérables for Best Musical.

When it came to the individual awards, Best Dancer went to Broughton High School’s Audrey Lewis, who played Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5, The Musical. After that, ABC11’s Diane Wilson came out to present the DPAC Shining Star Award, which went to Panther Creek High School’s David Hatcher, who played The Baker in Into The Woods. Returning from last year's competition were winners Noah Colvin and Lilly Pritchard, where they both performed a stunning rendition of ‘Suddenly Seymour’ from Little Shop of Horrors. The 20 finalists were introduced one more time, and the two winners were revealed to be Panther Creek High School’s Alex Fluker and Enloe High School’s Conor Kruger. Fluker, who played The Witch in Into The Woods, really brought the house down with her rendition of ‘Last Midnight,’ as did Kruger, who played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, with his rendition of ‘Bring Him Home.’ Although a shoutout was also given to Enloe High School’s Ryan Gregory, who broke a record as the first student to have participated in the competition four years in a row. This year, he was up for his performance as Marius in Enloe High School’s production of Les Misérables. The night ended with everyone performing the beloved anthem from Rent, ’Seasons of Love,’ which really brought the house down.

To Alex Fluker and Conor Kruger, 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 feel well represented. Win or lose, you’ll never know what may come out of your experiences there. Maybe someday, you’ll join the ranks of Beth Leavel and J. Harrison Ghee as a North Carolina native who went on to win a Tony Award for acting.


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