Two Utah high school performers are on their way to New York City after winning the Chevron Award for Best Actress and Best Actor in the seventh annual <a href=”http://www.utahfestival.org/index.php?p_resource=education_uhsmta” target=”_blank”>Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards</a> presented at Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theatre on May 13.
Vanessa Ballam, Education Director for <a href=”http://www.utahfestival.org/index.php?p_resource=home” target=”_blank”>Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre</a> (which sponsors the program), says Jessica Lewis from DaVinci Academy in Ogden won for her role as Miriam in “Fly By Night”, and Levi Hopkins from Millville’s Ridgeline High School won for his portrayal of Gomez Addams in “The Addams Family.”
“We’re very excited to have a Cache Valley star,” Ballam says excitedly. “Levi Hopkins won the biggest award for Best Actor. That means he will be traveling to New York City in June.
“He’ll leave around the 18th of June and spend 10 days in New York City working with Broadway choreographers and vocal coaches and acting coaches, casting directors, just having a life-changing experience which will culminate with a performance on the Minskoff stage in New York City.”
Ballam says she has actually taught 16-year-old Hopkins and helped direct him while he was performing in Utah Festival’s performance of Peter Pan last summer.
Ballam says the awards evening showcased 10 production numbers by high school nominated for Best Musical and medleys performed together by all contenders for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Cameo performers interacting with host Michael Ballam, founding director of Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre.
In all, awards were presented in 20 different categories. A new award was added this year and it focused on new works by students. The recognition, the Sheldon Harnick New Works Award, was given to Alex Lambert of Logan High School. Lambert created “Echoes Never Die”, an original musical celebrating Logan High School’s 100th year.
“Sheldon Harnick will be here this summer working on ‘Rex’ with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre,” Ballam continued. “Sheldon is one of the writers for ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, and ‘She Loves Me’, and ‘Fiorello!’, and ‘Rex’, which is being produced in Logan this summer.
“So we are arranging for Alex to have an opportunity to meet with Sheldon and talk with him, which I think is incredible. Sheldon is one of the still-remaining composers and lyricists from the golden age of Broadway.”
Ballam said fortunately this will be happening before Lambert leaves for a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.