OGDEN — Excitement was in the air Saturday, May 14, at Ogden High School’s Spencer Fox Eccles Auditorium as the Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards went into full swing.

Students from 26 high schools in Utah were nominated for a range of awards and were on hand for a ceremony that mirrored Broadway’s Tony Awards.

The show has some ties to New York City and Broadway, too, as the best actor and actress winners will spend one week in June training on Broadway and competing for the national best actor title and thousands of dollars in scholarships.

Vanessa Ballam, of Logan’s Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, directs the high school awards show and said the night at Ogden High School was amazing. Her father, Michael Ballam, a well-known opera singer and founder of the Utah Festival Opera, was the master of ceremonies and didn’t waste any time praising Ogden High’s art deco auditorium.

“I want you to take a moment and look around at this magnificent temple to the arts,” Michael Ballam said. “The community rose this from the dust and it shows it is invested in students in Utah, as are we.”

He advised the students, many of whom were dressed in full costume for performances at the show, that as the ceremony progressed they had two choices — to be envious of other people’s talents or to rejoice in the gifts of others.

“I would suggest that you rejoice in gifts of others,” Michael Ballam said.

The evening was mixed with awards and performances as each of the 10 Best High School Musical nominees presented a number from their shows. All of the nominated actors and actresses also took the stage.

Northern Utah schools fared well at the awards with Ogden’s DaVinci Academy winning a wide range of awards from best ensemble to best choreography and some supporting actress and actor honors. That school’s Jessica Lewis was also chosen as one of two Utah students to do a musical theater internship this summer for Utah Festival Opera in Logan.

One of the biggest awards of the night went to Angel Martinez for his role as Gomez in Clearfield High School’s “The Addams Family.” Martinez said he was shocked and humbled with his win. “I really did not expect this,” he said of loud screams and applause at the event.

The Clearfield actor was nominated for his supporting role in “Aida” as well, which Vanessa Ballam said was a first in the theater awards show’s history.

“The talent presented by schools and individuals was extraordinary!” she said. She also said she was impressed with the camaraderie between the students: “The response from the audience was palpable and almost deafening,” she said.

Best actor: Angel Martinez, Clearfield High – Gomez Addams, “The Addams Family”

Best supporting actress: Jessica Lewis, DaVinci Academy – Velma Kelly, “Chicago”

Best Cameo Appearance: Sofia Garza, DaVinci Academy — Matron Mama Morton, “Chicago”

Best Ensemble: Viewmont High – “Brigadoon”

Best Orchestra: Viewmont High – “Brigadoon”

Best Technical Crew: Logan High – “Meet Me in St. Louis”

Best Student Choreography: DaVinci Academy’s Leslie Davis, Ella Spurlock, Eve Jackson, Emeilia Church, Katarina Winkler — “Chicago”

Best Student Scenic Design: Colby Avis and Dylan Rice, Fremont High — “Big Fish”

Best Student Costume Design: Shelbie Jones, Clearfield High — “The Addams Family”

Best Student Lighting Design: Cole Sellers and Tristyn Casteel, Clearfield High — “Aida”


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