Winning Best Actress at the 2018 Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards not only validated Ahnaleisa Hodges’ hard work, she says, but her talent, too.
“I’ve been skeptical about pursuing (musical theater as a profession), because of the struggles of being a performer — but after this, I’ve decided I’m willing and strong enough,” Hodges says of the annual statewide event created and hosted by The Smith Center.
Many students’ lives have changed after being recognized at the Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards, which since 2013 featured gifted high school students performing on stage at The Smith Center, all vying for Best Actor and Best Actress.
With participants qualifying by performing a lead role in a high school musical theater production, the winners go on to perform on a Broadway stage in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, known as The Jimmy® Awards.
But lead actors and actresses aren’t the only talents that make high school productions shine.
With this in mind, The Smith Center significantly expanded its awards program this year to honor more students in a variety of award categories — celebrating the collaborative efforts and talents necessary for the successful presentation of high school musical theater productions.
As the 2019 Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards event will recognize the work of twice as many high schools than in past years, this marks the recipe for a showstopping event.
“We anticipate this to be the largest Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards event thus far,” says Kim Russell, program manager with The Smith Center.
Honoring Every Talent
The 2019 Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards will no longer just celebrate students from leading roles in their respective high school musical theater productions.
The event will also recognize supporting and featured actors and actresses, chorus and choreography ensembles, costume and set design and construction, live orchestras and direction, as well as selected ensemble numbers from the award category of Best Overall Musical.
In the months leading up to the event, The Smith Center enlisted a team of impartial theater professionals to serve as Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards judges.
Panels of three judges each attended the productions of nominated high schools to adjudicate the shows in the eligible award categories.
“The Smith Center designed this year’s adjudicated model after similar leading programs across the country,” Russell says.
Celebrating Behind the Scenes
As of this year, skills beyond performing will be recognized during the awards event, as many students are involved in supporting their high school musical theater productions on and off the stage.
“The student involvement in the design and construction of costumes and sets is a valuable educational opportunity, as is performing, and equally deserves recognition,” Russell says.
It’s all worth it to nurture the next generation of performing arts lovers, she adds, noting that being honored at this event could inspire students to pursue careers in the arts.
“Whether they study lighting, sets, costume design or the triple threat of singing, acting and dancing, the experience of participating and performing on stage at The Smith Center is life changing,” she says.
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