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Heights youth meet Broadway

By Josiah Thompson, iLander Staff Reporter

Lights flood the stage, adrenaline rushes through the veins of those about to go on stage and the audience gives a roaring applause for the last scene. 

That’s the cue to “go”! 

This is the feeling every actor gets to experience every time he or she performs. After that initial feeling the show goes on – and then it's over. But thanks to the Hennepin Theatre Trust, high school students from all over the state get the opportunity to double the excitement and the nerves and perform on the stage of the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.

This opportunity is available to those involved in the Spotlight Musical Program, run by the Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis. This program takes high school performances to another level by sending professional theatre critics to a few of each school’s musicals.

These critics judge the show as a whole, and then the individual actors. With the collaboration of results from the critics, Spotlight decides which school deserves recognition for their show and their actors. This year the Spotlight Musical Awards will be held at 7 p.m., on Monday, June 6, at the Orpheum Theatre downtown.

There are several different awards available and each one has two levels; honorable mention and outstanding. The winners are then involved in an awards ceremony that is structured much like the Tony Awards. Last year, five CHHS students earned honorable mention for the roles they played in the high school’s spring production of Little Shop of Horrors. The experience proved to be very ecstatic.

“Being on the same stage where Broadway tours perform and being recognized in that way was just amazing,” said senior Elizabeth Miske. 

All of the other actors would agree. Students involved in the awards ceremony met beforehand a few times to learn the song and dance what they were going to perform. The show was not only exciting for those involved, but also for those that just watch the awards take place.

“It’s crazy how good some of these schools are,” said CHHS drama director Jill Jungers. “A lot of them rival a lot of professionals that I’ve seen.” 

This is no understatement. Choreography for a lot of these schools has kids flying in the air and doing lifts and steps that should be far beyond their skill levels.

“Students in this program are dedicated and that’s the most important part,” said choreographer Kayla Schiltgen. “They work hard to accomplish any task thrown at them.” 

Tickets for the awards are $15, and given the caliber of shows being performed that night, that price is a bargain. CHHS students do not yet know whether or not they have received awards this year, but many of the students involved will be attending no matter what the result is.

Especially if CHHS wins awards, this is a must see event and a night you’ll never forget. Spectacular singing and dancing from high-schoolers promise to make the audience “oooh” and “aaaah.” So turn on the lights and be prepared for the night of your life.