Sky High Players take honors in statewide theater competition

The November 2019 production of "Xanadu" by the Sky High Players of Sky View High School took top honors for best direction and student costume design at the recent 10th annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards.

SMITHFIELD – The Sky High Players of Sky View High School captured two awards at the 10th annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards on May 16.

After garnering 10 prestigious nominations in various categories for their November 2019 production of the juke-box musical “Xanadu,” the Sky High Players took the top honors for best direction by Jon Rash and best student costume design by Emma Pierson.

The musical theater competition is hosted by Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre in conjunction with the Broadway at the Eccles/Broadway Across America programs.

The event was broadcast on YouTube and showcased virtual performances by 50 individual finalists and samples of the 10 best musicals performed by high school students during the 2019-20 academic year.

“With all of the uncertainties in life right now,” said Vanessa Ballam, the co-director of the award competition, “it’s affirming to see the talent and dedication of these high school students and their teachers. We’re honored to be a part of their artistic journey.”

“Xanadu” is a crowd-pleasing but improbable roller-skating musical based on the 1980 movie of the same name starring Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly.

The Sky High Players production of “Xanadu” was nominated for best musical, best direction, best choreography, best set design, best tech crew, best ensemble performances and best lighting design. The production also garnered individual nominations for Best Actor (Ethan Nelson as Sonny), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Westover as Melpomene) and Best Student Costume Design (Emma Pierson).

Over the past eight months, Ballam explained, the Utah Festival Opera sent 16 professional judges to 46 Utah high school musicals to score and respond to their productions. This year, over 3,000 high school students from across Utah participated in the high school musical competition.

Other individual winners in the competition were Bo Jacqueline Chester of Liahona Preparatory Academy for Best Actress; Gus Scott from Uintah High School for Best Actor; Anthony Tibolla of Juan Diego Catholic High School for Best Supporting Actor; Eden Rhodes of Pleasant Grove High School for Best Supporting Actress; Tori Kenton of Park City High School for Best Cameo Role; Savannah Calin and Jaggar Moon from St. Joseph’s High School for Best Student Choreography; Collin Schmierer from Davis High School for Best Student Lighting Design; Jarron Messerly from Davis High School for Best Student Scenic Design; and Hanna Richards of Highland High School for Best Student Director.

Davis High School took home the honors for Best Musical; Cottonwood High School for Best Orchestra; Skyridge High School for Best Ensemble Performances; Hillcrest High School and Northridge High School in a tie for Best Choreography; Woods Cross High School for Best Scenic Design; Uintah High School for Best Costume Design and Best Tech Crew; and Ogden High School for Best Lighting.

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