By Kristen Miller
New for the high school fall musical participants this year, was the chance to compete in the Spotlight Musical Theatre Program considered to be the drama equivalent to state competition.
The combined school fall musical of Dassel-Cokato and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, is the first of rural schools to compete in this program, which goes up against some of the top metro schools for high honors.
This year’s production of “Into the Woods,” directed by Dave Metcalf, received several awards including an honorable mention for the overall performance, an honorable mention for the orchestra, outstanding technical achievement in scenic design by Rachael Balsaitis, as well as three awards for performance in a leading role.
HLWW senior Kacie Carlsted played Red Ridinghood, which won Spotlight’s Outstanding Performance in a leading role.
DC seniors Amanda Imberg and Natalie Davis both received honorable mentions for their performances in leading roles; Imberg as the Baker’s Wife, and Davis as Cinderella.
These three actresses will go on to rehearse and perform with the other Spotlight actors who received the same honors, for group song-and-dance numbers from the Broadway musicals “Rent” and “Hairspray.”
Carlsted will also perform a solo of her role as “Red Ridinghood.”
These performances, along with others receiving awards, will take place during the Spotlight Awards Ceremony at the Orpheum Theatre, Sunday, June 8 at 7 p.m.
“This is as close to state as you can get with a musical it’s pretty exciting,” said Davis, who was not expecting such an award.
Carlsted was “speechless” when Metcalf informed her she received Outstanding Performance in a leading role.
It was especially exciting for Carlsted since this was her first big role in a musical, she said.
Having participated in plays and musicals since she was a little girl, Carlsted’s two favorite things are singing and acting.
What Carlsted enjoyed most about this year’s fall musical was the friendships she acquired.
“A lot of us grew really close,” she said.
Davis said receiving this award was just “icing on the cake.” Performing Cinderella was a bit of a challenge for Davis since Cinderella is such a complex character.
“It was a big accomplishment developing my character and portraying her well,” Davis said.
Theater is where Davis feels she belongs.
“I love singing and acting,” she said.
Imberg was also surprised to hear of her award because during the judging, she, along with the rest of the cast, experienced some technical difficulties, she said.
Playing the Baker’s Wife, Imberg found it to be difficult developing a character who didn’t really have her own story, she said.
“There is so much story that doesn’t get told,” Imberg said.
Imberg spent a lot of time talking with Metcalf and getting to know the character and what type of person she was.
Imberg describes her character as a wife, mother, and a working woman “who had to sacrifice her own dreams for reality and a greater purpose,” she said.
Her first serious role as the mother in last year’s fall musical, “Breaking the Prairie Wolf Code,” helped to prepare her for this role, she said.
What Imberg likes most about theater is being able to express different sides of herself.
“You can express your creative side through the characters,” she said.
Davis feels those who don’t participate in theater are missing out.
“It’s almost like a high,” she said, “especially performing on the stage in front of an audience.”
All three of the girls gave praise for the unique set design that received Outstanding Technical Achievement.
“Our set was awesome,” Davis said. “Someone thought we rented our set.”
Parts of the set include pop-up story books, trees, and large two-dimensional props painted by Balsaitis.
“You could hear the ‘WOW’ in the audience,” Davis said.
The Spotlight awards ceremony will also be somewhat of a reunion for the cast and crew.
The three girls have been in theater together all of high school and were glad they were able to do this last musical together.
Carlsted also mentioned this was the last year HLWW and DC will have a fall musical together for a few reasons including the addition of HLWW’s new high school and auditorium.