Local high schools to perform in SpotLight

Four area high schools have been accepted into Hennepin Theatre Trust’s 2012-13 SpotLight Musical Theatre Program.

Students from Andover, Anoka, Blaine and St. Francis high schools next spring will perform on the Orpheum stage in Minneapolis as part of a program dedicated to inspiring arts and culture development in the community.

The four high schools participated last year in the program as well.

This marks the eighth year of SpotLight, which celebrates high school musicals and recognizes the achievements of their talented students, including actors, musicians and crew members in Minnesota. Plus, students get the opportunity to perform together on a legitimate stage in the theater’s SpotLight Showcase slated for June 3, 2013.

Anoka High School has been accepted into the program based on its production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” (playing Nov. 2-10) and “All Shook Up.” Blaine High School applied and was accepted into the program with “Hello Dolly!” and St. Francis High School with “Grease.” Andover High School’s selection is to be announced.

To qualify for the program, the trust sends adjucators, professional artists, to high schools to assess and constructively critique their shows. Shows are not compared or ranked against each other.

Students are honored in the following categories: Outstanding performance in leading, supporting and featured roles; outstanding performance by a chorus, dance ensemble and student orchestra; and outstanding overall performance of a musical and outstanding overall production of a musical.

Outstanding productions get the opportunity to perform snippets of their show at the Orpheum. By request, the trust also sends out professionals to critique shows and offer helpful tips before the shows opens.

This is St. Francis High School director Glenn Morehouse Olson’s fifth year of participating in the SpotLight program.

The program is helpful to both students and theater teachers. It provides a collaborative for theater directors, Olson said. Schools in the program are now able to share advice, props, costumes and more, she said.

“We’re not really on an island anymore,” Olson said.

The program also holds professional workshops at SpotLight schools. Linda Talcott-Lee, an Emmy-award winning choreographer, has worked with Olson’s students.

“They’re getting access to artists and teachers they would never have access to without the trust,” Olson said.

The SpotLight program is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund. The fund was appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment passed by Minnesota voters in November 2008.

Fifty-six Minnesota schools will be represented in this year’s program.

For more information, visit www.HennepinTheatreTrust.org.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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