Each spring it is the Orpheum’s honor to celebrate the talents of our region’s young performers and their tireless teachers. On April 20, we announced the nominees for this year’s High School Musical Theatre Awards, a performance and awards presentation showcasing students from 30 schools across the Mid-South.
Now in its sixth year, the challenge presented to the HSMTA judges becomes increasingly difficult – our area’s gifted young thespians have made the competition even stiffer. Students vie for a number of acting, music, production, technical and management awards as well as overall production accolades during a show-stopping awards ceremony.
In addition to the awards themselves, student nominees and representatives from all of the eligible productions put on a showcase of impressive musical numbers. Joining them this year will be host Kyle Dean Massey, a veteran Broadway and television star. On Broadway, Massey has appeared as Wicked’s Fiyero, Next to Normal’s Gabe and as Pippin himself, and is a recurring character on ABC’s Nashville this season.
As you can imagine, an immense amount of work goes into bringing the HSMTAs to life each year, from the judges who attend performances from fall to spring to the students who come together for five days of intense rehearsals – not to mention the dedication of our own Orpheum education staff, which brings each piece of the puzzle together.
“The HSMTAs foster a sense support and community,” said Lindsay Crosnes, manager of education and community programs. “Schools that would really never have interacted are now going to see each other’s shows.”
At this week’s Lead Actor/Lead Actress kickoff meeting, there was a definite sense of camaraderie as students from competing schools complimented one another on the performances they were nominated for. While the HSMTAs are a competition, it’s largely a friendly one. MacLean Mayers, last year’s Lead Actor winner and 2015 nominee, told the group of fellow nominees this week that the friendships he made last year are still going strong.
Kyle Van Frank is nominated as a Lead Actor this year for his role as Robbie Hart in St. Benedict at Auburndale’s production of The Wedding Singer. As a former Supporting Actor nominee, the senior and Orpheum STAR Council member has now been a part of the HSMTAs for four years.
“I think it gives the schools something to look forward to, a goal, to build a community within the high schools and build a larger and stronger theatre community in the city in general,” he said. “I just think it’s a great opportunity in general for students to have the bigger theatres in town participate with high school students cause we don’t always get a lot of those opportunities.”
And those opportunities transcend the Mid-South for the winning Lead Actor and Lead Actress, who travel to New York City for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards ceremony. Look for a new blog post next week for the scoop on what happens at Nationals and MacLean Mayers’ insights as one of last year’s winners.
To see the entire list of 2015 nominees and learn more about the High School Musical Theatre Awards program, visit orpheum-memphis.com/hsmta. We’d love for you to join us May 11 as we celebrate the accomplishments of these students, schools and teachers over the past year. Learn more about the ceremony and get ticket information here.