Springboro’s terrific, large-scale production of “Oklahoma!,” which I saw on April 28, featured 134 students including crew and orchestra. Principals included Alex Grotjan as Curly, Ashley Ortel as Laurey, Haley Hemmelgarn as Aunt Eller Murphy, Ben Locke as Will Parker, Peyton Knight as Ado Annie Carnes, and Casen Kidd as Jud Fry. Ortel’s beautiful soprano (“Many a New Day”), Locke’s rousing energy (“Kansas City”) and Knight’s humorous magnetism (performing “I Cain’t Say No” on stage and within the audience without missing a beat) were among numerous highlights.
“It’s great to be recognized for all of our efforts,” said Leslie Sharkey, who co-directed with Carina Clark. “The kids are thrilled. They know they had a good show. They will perform part of the song ‘Oklahoma!’ at the Showcase, which they are pretty excited about. We also have five students who will perform solos at the Showcase. The adjudicator comments were also really helpful this year.”
“Oklahoma!” was dedicated to the memory of longtime Springboro choir and musical director Beth Jamison, who passed away last November. Sharkey attributes the production’s success to the dedication among the cast who held Jamison close in their hearts throughout the process.
“A lot of the students knew her really well and they did it for her,” Sharkey said. “She did a lot of work with the students, especially the seniors. We know she would be so excited and thrilled for the students this year.”
Centerville High School’s visually striking production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which I saw April 30, featured principals including Amanda Kingrey as Ella, Sam McLain as Prince Topher, Emma Fry as Madame, Isha Atiq as Charlotte, and Rachel Mifflin as Gabrielle. The school will perform “The Prince is Giving a Ball,” which includes 35 students.
Credit: Barry L. Burtenshaw
Credit: Barry L. Burtenshaw
“The students are excited for the chance to perform at the Schuster Center and do so in such a public way,” said Jason Hamen, director of theatre programming at Centerville High School and the inaugural recipient of the MVHSTA Theatre Director of the Year Award in 2019. “Whenever Centerville is recognized, it means we are doing good things and giving our students opportunities to excel and also apply criticism received from the adjudicators. It means so much for Centerville to receive recognition for the hard work and celebrate all the cool things the kids are doing.”
The Showcase will also feature performances by Zach Ahrens and Isabel Rawlins, both of Versailles High School. They were top scorers in their representative roles, demonstrating their talents at a musical theatre workshop with nine other student performers. The duo will represent the MVHSTAs at the 30th annual Jimmy Awards in New York City on June 27 at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, the home of Disney’s “The Lion King.”
The Jimmy Awards are also known as the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. Dayton Live is an official Regional Awards Program with the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. This year marks the first time the MVHSTAs are sending two students to New York City to participate in the Jimmy Awards.
Ahrens and Rawlins will be in New York from June 20 through 28 to participate in a week-long theater intensive that includes coaching, training and rehearsing led by some of Broadway’s most accomplished professionals.
“Everyone was absolutely amazing, but these two individuals showed a dedication, talent and drive that we know will make people proud to have them represent Dayton in New York,” Radford said.
HOW TO GO
What: Miami Valley High School Theatre Awards Showcase
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: 937-228-3630 or daytonlive.org.