Two students from Shawnee Mission high schools, honored by Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards for their theatrical achievements, are going to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.
Maggie Marx, 18, who graduated this spring from Shawnee Mission Northwest, was named Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role for her performance as Audrey in “Little Shop of Horrors” at Northwest.
Austin Dalgleish, also 18, who graduated from Shawnee Mission East, was recognized as Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for his portrayal of Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” at Shawnee Mission East.
They are representing Starlight Theatre at the National High School event today through Tuesday in New York City. The annual talent showcase features performances by all contestants and solos by select finalists following five days of rehearsals and private coaching. Awards will be presented Monday at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre.
Blue Star Awards recognizes exceptional achievement in musical theater at the high school level. This is the seventh year Blue Star’s winning actor and actress have gone to New York City for the national competition.
Marx’s initial reaction was “Holy cow, I’m on cloud nine!”
“My dream is to live in New York City and be a Broadway star,” she said. “Hopefully, it’s that time in my life. I definitely feel my heart is telling me to go for it. I want to make it my career. I hope to get my foot in the door the week I’m there.”
Marx said she plans to work in professional theater in the Kansas City area this year to gain more experience, instead of going to college.
The Blue Star Award ceremony was not without drama. For the first time in the event’s history there was a tie for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role. It was between Marx and Paden Osborn of Winnetonka High School.
And for the first time there was an immediate sing-off to determine who was going to New Yok City. Marx was judged the winner. “My first thought was ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” she said.
Dalgleish had a less traumatic time with his award.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m especially looking forward to the week in New York. I’m sure the rehearsing and the private coaching will mean hard work but I know it will be valuable. I’m anxious to see what goes on.”
He had auditioned and been accepted for a role in “West Side Story” that opened this week at The Theatre in the Park but dropped out in favor of the New York trip.
“I’m probably a singer first, actor second then a dancer,” said Dalgleish, who stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall.
He will attend the University of Southern California this fall and major in theater. “I decided on USC because it offered the most of what I wanted,” Dalgleish said.
Dalgleish and Marx have lengthy resumes listing their theater and vocal accomplishments during their high school years and community theater appearances. Both are members of the National Honor Society.
To accumulate information about nominees for the awards, a committee of Blue Star adjudicators attends the musical productions of each participating school and provides their evaluations to the Starlight Education Department. Their evaluations are compiled, and with videos and other information the winners are selected and then announced at the Blue Star Awards ceremony. This year’s ceremony was May 21.
BLUE STAR AWARDS
Forty-eight public and private high schools in the area, producing a total of 57 musicals, participated in the Blue Star Awards during the 2014-15 school year.
Other Blue Star Awards won by students in Johnson County high schools:
Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role: Molly Munyan, Olathe East.
Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role: Emily Baugher, Olathe East.
Outstanding Ensemble: Olathe East.
Outstanding Lighting Design: Shawnee Mission West.
Outstanding Technical Crew: Shawnee Mission West.
Outstanding Costume Design: Olathe East.
Technical Achievement: Jessica Goddard, Olathe East.
Rising Star Scholarship Recipient: Cooper McGuire, Gardner-Edgerton.