SALT LAKE CITY — It's fitting that one of the two Utah high school musical theater students on their way to New York to compete in a national competition would portray a character who sings, "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere."
On Saturday night at Salt Lake's Eccles Theater, Abigail Edwards from Green Canyon High School in North Logan and Ethan Kelso from Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts won the best actress and best actor awards at the ninth annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards. Edwards stepped into the role of the bookworm adventure-seeker Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" and Kelso won over the judges with his portrayal of Will Bloom in the Andrew Lippa and John August musical "Big Fish."
“It was an incomparable evening honoring talent in our state," Vanessa Ballam, director of Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards, said in a press release. "Holding the awards in the beautiful Eccles Theater is the perfect way to celebrate these incredible student artists. There was magic in the air.”
Both students will represent Utah at the Jimmy Awards in New York City in June, where, after a week of master classes, private coaching and rehearsals with theatre professionals, the students will perform with and compete against other students at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre for best performances by an actress and actor.
Saturday's competition featured 10 production numbers by high schools competing for 18 different categories, including best musical, best director and best choreography. Plain City's Fremont High School won best musical for its production of “Seussical.” The best director prize went to Skyridge High School's production of "Cinderella," with Northridge High School winning best choreography for its production of "Newsies."
“The work happening in our Utah high schools is inspiring," said Ballam.
The Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards is sponsored and produced by Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, and partners with MagicSpace Entertainment/Broadway at the Eccles. Michael Ballam, founding artistic director of Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, said that Saturday evening's event shows that, with hard work, these students can achieve their aspirations.
“Dreams do come true,” he said.
Complete list of the 2019 Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards:
Best musical: "Seussical," Fremont High School
Best actor: Ethan Kelso, Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts
Best actress: Abigail Edwards, Green Canyon High School
Best supporting actor: Caleb Hunt, Uintah High School
Best supporting actress: Jordan Petersen, Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts
Best cameo performance: Adelle Remke, Highland High School
Best director: "Cinderella," Skyridge High School
Best choreography: Northridge High School, "Newsies"
Best ensemble: Davis High School, "Newsies"
Best scenic design: Bonneville High School, "The Phantom of the Opera"
Best orchestra: Juan Diego Catholic High School, "Guys and Dolls"
Best costume design: Uintah High School, "Starlight Express"
Best lighting design: Uintah High School, "Starlight Express"Comment on this story
Best technical crew: Hillcrest High School, "Hairspray"
Best student choreography: Annabelle Zimmer and Carson Sabin, DaVinci Academy, "Ruthless"
Best student scenic design: Kaden Pigsley, Eric Burton and Aaron Cornaby, Hillcrest High School, "Sunday in the Park with George"
Best student costume design: Brianne Miller and Steffani McMullin, Mountain Crest High School, "Annie Get Your Gun"
Best student lighting design: Dakota Grothe, Pleasant Grove High School, "Anything Goes"