This year’s SpotLight Showcase was truly exceptional and the energy in the Orpheum was electrifying. More than eight hundred SpotLight students from across Minnesota came together to create an evening of musical theatre for the sold-out audience. And above all, it packed a powerful message: Whether or not these young people go on to a career in the business, the lessons they have learned as a participating SpotLight student are invaluable and lifelong.
The passion that the students poured out on stage was undeniable. So much, in fact, that the SpotLight Showcase master of ceremonies, Greta Grosch, opened the show by rallying the audience and calling for “fierce advocates for high school musical theatre.”
Why are we doing this? So that all of you sitting here tonight with a mix of pride and anxiety- pride for what these young people have accomplished as a part of high school musical theatre, and simultaneously scared to death that this crazy passion of theirs might not go away- can be assured that being involved in theatre is a good thing. We are going to share with you our experiences so you know that it’s going to be alright.
And there it was. The elephant in the room was ushered out and the audience roared in resounding commitment to lifting up the students, their respective high school musical theatre programs and the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program.
Throughout the evening, presenters talked of the SpotLight Parent Network, Alumni Network, ways to financially support SpotLight, and of course, they shared personal experiences that attested to the importance of musical theatre. Sheila Smith, a former high school stage manager, transformed her organizational skills into a career at Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Stacey Marmalejo, President of the School of Rock, spoke to the value of collaboration by mentioning the upcoming partnership with the SpotLight Cabaret Camp this summer. The Showcase was also laced with medleys from our upcoming Broadway season, including Book of Mormon, Flashdance, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Also, a noted highlight of the Showcase was Broadway actress, MN native, and SpotLight Spokesperson Linda Eder’s performance of “Something to Believe In” with the Top 24 Triple Threat finalists.
Toward the end of the evening, the success of the Showcase was unstoppable. Our Showcase hashtag on Twitter [#SpotLight] was trending locally and we were on the cusp of announcing the Triple Threat Award winners. Tom Hoch, President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust, and Melissa Koch, Director of Education and Community Engagement, took the podium to announce the winners: one boy and one girl to represent Minnesota at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. SpotLight spokesperson Linda Eder shared the podium to give Emily Nies (White Bear Lake Area High School) and Dan Piering (Wayzata High School) the Triple Threat Actress and Actor Awards. We are so thrilled to have these talented young adults represent our state in New York City. Keep an eye out for our next blog, dedicated to the stories of Emily and Dan!
But, to everyone’s surprise, there would be a third award given out: the SpotLight Triple Threat Breakout Performance Award. We were all so moved by John Jamison, a young artist new to high school musical theatre as a senior, that we felt we simply had to recognize him in a significant way. Thanks to a generous donor, we were able to create an experience that we feel will be of great benefit to John. Along with a parent, John will be flown out to New York for a three-day intensive trip that will include Broadway shows, professional coaching, a visit to Telsey and Company, and meetings with other theatre industry professionals. Truly, John is a stand-out participant, both on and off the stage. If you saw him perform as Seaweed during the Hairspray medley on Monday night, you know exactly how excited we are to sweep him off to New York and nurture his future as a performer.
In true SpotLight Showcase fashion, songs had been sung, stories had been shared, and the stage and house had connected in mutual delight over the talent and spirit of the evening. The Showcase closed with every single student belting out the finale number, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” while the audience joined in for a spectacular sing-a-long. The show ended and the Orpheum grew emptier, spilling over 2,000 smiling faces onto Hennepin Avenue. The Showcase is over, but the message remains: Fierce Advocates of High School Musical Theatre, DON’T STOP BELIEVING.
Feeling in the giving mood? Donate to SpotLight here.