Columbia Heights, Minnesota
By Brenda Sanchez, iLander Staff Reporter
Some Heights teens won awards at the Seventh Annual SpotLight Showcase at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis last week.
Those teen actors sound off on the honor of receiving recognition for their work in drama.
“SpotLight is like the Tony (Awards), only for high school,” said CHHS sophomore Jason Cariveau, who played Nicely Nicely Johnson in the CHHS spring musical Guys and Dolls.
The SpotLight Awards recognize high school actors whose schools participate in the SpotLight Theatre Program. There are about 56 schools in the state that are part of this program.
This year, a number of Guys and Dolls actors earned recognition for their talent. Jesse McCormick and Mikal Garrett each received an award for Outstanding Performance. Madeline Livingood, Jason Cariveau, Robert Harper and Benjamin Fiorendino all received Honorable Mentions.
There are many categories an actor or school can participate in to be mentioned. From community engagement to the honorable and outstanding productions, overall performance, choreography, orchestra, ensemble and, of course, lead or supporting roles.
Students honored must show a great ability in dancing, singing and acting.
The Heights winners rehearsed about a week to put on a choreography piece called “Flashdance... What a Feeling” from Flashdance. Actors must attend every practice, which are about four to five hours long, to be able to perform. They had three rehearsals to learn tough choreography and the music. They got to perform with about 100 other kids, so it was a big stage. In total, there were about 703 participating students.
“My favorite part is knowing that this is such a big deal,” Livingood said before the show, “and an honor that I get to be a part of it.”
Cariveau and Livingood seemed to agree that it’s such a great feeling to get to put on a performance with individuals with the same motivation and passion for theatre. Fiorendino also said it was “cool, but at the same time some scary stuff.”
Schools with Outstanding Overall Performance got to perform a scene from their shows. There are no costumes or props, just actors wearing their SpotLight t-shirts. Seniors who got an Outstanding Performance award, such as Mikal Garrett, got to perform “Goodbye,” from Catch Me If You Can. However, Garrett was not able to perform because he missed one rehearsal that was on Graduation Day.
Even though he was bummed out that he couldn't perform, he said that “graduation is much more important.”
The Triple Threat Award is a very prestigious one that recognizes 24 individuals who have excelled at singing, acting, dancing and leadership. Only one boy and one girl had the chance to win a trip to New York City and continue onto Nationals, learn more about theatre and earn a $10,000 scholarship.
Even though no CHHS students were part of that list, it still is a huge honor that Guys and Dolls earned an Honorable Mention and that those teens were recognized for their very hard and admirable work. The show had the great energy and amazing talent that high school students bring to the stage.
(File Photo: A SpotLight shirt that students wear when they perform at the show. Photo by Francisco Rivera.)