Lights! Camera! Action!
When the lights shine on stage at St. Francis High School, they spotlight those young thespians in dazzling illumination.
Last month, Hennepin Theatre Trust awarded a number of SpotLight Awards to St. Francis’ young actors and actresses, including an overall outstanding performance award for “Shrek the Musical.”
In addition, Abilene Olson – one of the top six female students to compete at the SpotLight Awards – was named a Triple Threat Award Winner for Minnesota for 2014.
“We have some great stuff going on here at St. Francis in our theatre department,” said director Glenn Morehouse Olson.
SpotLight is Hennepin Theatre Trust’s flagship educational initiative which honors and supports Minnesota high school musical theatre programs and students.
This year, a record 67 schools – including 13 from greater Minnesota – participated in SpotLight Musical Theatre Program, presenting musicals made possible by the collaboration of almost 5,400 students, which are annually seen by an estimated 130,000 audience members.
This spring, 36 schools presented musicals and a group of evaluators assessed each school’s production.
Nominations for SpotLight awards were submitted for categories including outstanding performance in leading, supporting and featured roles; outstanding performance by a chorus, dance ensemble and student orchestra; outstanding overall performance of a musical, and outstanding overall production of a musical. (Shows are not compared or ranked against each other, so categories may have multiple honorees.)
Other local schools participating in the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program included Andover High School (“The Music Man”), Blaine High School (“Little Women”), and Spring Lake Park High School (“Cabaret”).
Schools and participating students were honored during SpotLight’s culminating event, the ninth annual SpotLight Showcase, held for the first time on two nights, June 8 and 9, at the Orpheum Theatre.
SpotLight, sponsored by TCF Bank, provides world-class educational, performing and creative experiences that help students develop essential skills for success such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and self-expression.
In the program, students work with local and national theatre educators and Broadway theatre professionals who offer training, critical feedback, on-site school workshops and master classes.
Actors and actresses from local high schools were awarded Hennepin Theatre Trust SpotLight awards in the following fashion.
Andover High School “The Music Man”
Andover thespians received Honorable Mention in Vocal Performance. Also these individuals were awarded: William Ketter (as Harold Hill) and Anna Wagner (as Marian Paroo) received Honorable Mention Performance in a Leading Role; Josh Palmquist (as Tommy Djilas), Calvin Althoff (as Winthrop Paroo), Erin Ritter (as Mrs. Paroo), and Rachel O’Keefe (as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn) received Honorable Mention Performance in a Supporting Role.
Blaine High School “Little Women”
Blaine received Honorable Mention Overall Performance and Honorable Mention Performance by a Student Orchestra for their “Little Women.” These individuals were also awarded: Jordan Schwartz (as Jo March), Maya Richardson (as Amy March), Bianet Diaz (as Beth March), Meckenna Woetze (as Aunt March), and Ashrene Mohammed (as Laurie Laurence) each received Honorable Mention Performance in a Leading Role and Garrett Gessell (as Professor Bhaer) received Honorable Mention Performance in a Supporting Role.
Spring Lake Park High School “Cabaret”
The following Spring Lake Park High School thespians received awards: Madison Dempsey (as Sally Bowles) received Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role; Luke Remme (as the Emcee) received Honorable Mention Performance in a Leading Role; and Cody Johnson (as Ernst Ludwig) received Honorable Mention Performance in a Supporting Role.
St. Francis High School “Shrek the Musical”
In addition to its Outstanding Overall Performance award for its performance of “Shrek the Musical,” St. Francis was awarded Honorable Mention Overall Production.
Individually, the following students were awarded thusly: Abilene Olson (as Fiona) received Outstanding Performance In a Leading Role as did Max Mauch-Morff (as Donkey). Nick Messer (as Shrek) received Honorable Mention in a Leading Role. Amelia Tesdahl (as Dragon) received Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role while Natalie Hanson (as Pinocchio) and Sophia Kortemeier (as Gingy) received Honorable Mention Performance in a Supporting Role. Receiving Honorable Mention in a Featured Role were Jamie Costello (as Wicked Witch), Greg Hawks (as Big Bad Wolf), Katrina Miller (as Teen Fiona), Victoria Snyder (as Mama Ogre), Ruby Shroeder (as Young Fiona), and Ryan Aschenbach (as Young Shrek). In addition, Brianna Nesset received Outstanding Achievement in Make-up Design; Jolie Olson received Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Lighting; Hannah Beck received Outstanding Achievement in Student Direction; Abby Young received Honorable Mention Achievement in Costume Crew; and Tracie Clyne received Honorable Mention Achievement in Puppetry and Costuming.
Sue Austreng is at