Onekama theater students compete at Ovation Awards for possible trip to New York
Posted by Ken Grabowski
ONEKAMA — One of the best measuring sticks for judging how far a program has advanced is by the amount of recognition it receives around the state.
By using that as a guideline, it is obvious that the joint Onekama, Bear Lake and Kaleva Norman Dickson drama program has reached that level. This year they will be sending Onekama High School freshman Tucker Laws and junior Emily Barnard to participate in the high school music theater Ovation Awards that will take place on May 19 at Michigan State University’s Wharton Center.
The Ovation Awards are part of the National High School Musical Awards Program. It is also known as the Jimmy Award. It is necessary to first qualify for the national program through a state award and this is the first year that MSU is doing the Ovation Awards. It is recognition that local collaborative play director Amanda Harthun said they are excited to receive for their program.
“We received an e-mail in April and only certain shows qualified and ours did,” said Harthun. “It gave very specific details about which characters from which shows qualified. So from that we selected two students, and did the first application process that included letters of recommendation and pictures.”
Both students made it past the first round, and were invited to compete in Lansing. There are 27 other students taking part in the Ovation Awards at the Wharton Center.
“It is going to be a long day for them as they have to be at the Wharton Center at 8:30 a.m., and will be judged all day long by Broadway professionals,” said Harthun. “They are going to teach them songs from other Broadway shows because in the evening they will do a presentation and then name the winners. So, it means learning new choreography and new songs, as well as singing a song from our show.”
Harthun said they had to get head shot pictures and a resume together, just like a regular audition for a real show. She said staff members are working with Laws and Barnard to prepare them for the big night, and they have even called in a little assistance from the professional level.
“I asked Kayla Peabody who is working in professional theater (whose father, Bruce, is technology director at Onekama Schools) if she would help them out,” said Harthun. “We are hoping that Kayla could give them some tips on how to prepare for it. I think it would be more meaningful to come from someone in the business, and she is even willing to do a little audition for them, so that is exciting.”
Harthun said she and musical director Kathy Joseph will be attending the event as will both students parents. They will be unable to watch the activities during the day, but in the evening they will get to watch the show.