Winners Announced For 2018 Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards

Two Utah high school performers are on their way to New York City after winning the award for Best Actress and Best Actor in the eighth annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards held in the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City May ?12. Aria Critchley from East High School won for her role as Jane in "Tarzan" and Bennett Chew from Hillcrest won for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables"

The students will represent Utah at the Jimmy Awards in New York City in June where they will experience 10 days of private coaching, master classes and rehearsals with Theatre professionals. The week culminates at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre when they perform and compete for the prestigious Jimmy Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress, as well as opportunities for professional advancement and other awards.

"Dreams do come true," said Michael Ballam the founding Artistic Director of Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. Vanessa Ballam, director of the UHSMTA added, "It was an incomparable evening honoring talent in our State. Holding the awards in the beautiful Eccles Theater is the perfect way to celebrate these incredible student artists. The response from the audience was exhilarating."

The evening showcased 10 production numbers by high schools nominated for Best Musical and medleys performed together by all contenders for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The performances were diverse and included onstage shenanigans of the top ten Best Cameo Performers interacting with host Michael Ballam.

Hillcrest High School took home the Zions Bank Award for Best Musical for their production of "Les Miserables." Vanessa Ballam said "I am in awe of the abilities of these high school students. Utah Festival is honored to be a part of their artistic journey."

The education and outreach department of Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre in Logan sponsors and produces the event and is partnered with MagicSpace Entertainment and Broadway at the Eccles. The Domo Broadway at the Eccles Education Fund makes participation in National competition possible. Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre sponsors the winners of Best Actor and Best Actress to fly to NYC and compete on the national level.

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre sent 17 judges to 34 Utah high school musicals over the past 6 months to score and respond to the productions. Then the juried finalists competed in the official awards ceremony at the Eccles Theatre. The UHSMTA gives awards in 18 different categories from The Hotel Monaco Award for Best Direction to The Daynes Music Award for Best Orchestra and The Maverik and Vanguard Charitable Award for Best Ensemble.

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