The fall musical receives six honors for first year participating in SpotLight
By Kristen Miller
For the first year, Dassel-Cokato’s combined fall musical with Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School was recognized and honored by the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s SpotLight Musical Theatre Program.
In an effort to expand the boundaries of the SpotLight program, which honors excellence in high school musical performances, director Dave Metcalf asked if it was possible to stretch out to Dassel-Cokato and HLWW.
SpotLight was created to honor excellence in musical theatre.
“It was a good experiment. For their first year, everyone did a very nice job,” said Ann Kim, the community programs coordinator for Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Last fall’s performance of “Into the Woods,” received many compliments, as well as constructive criticism, from three of the SpotLight judges.
Out of the performance came six honorees including “Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role,” four honorable mentions, and one for “Technical Achievement.”
The “Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role” went to Kacie Carlsted for her role as Little Red Ridinghood.
One of the judges wrote Carlsted was a “stand-out in her consistency and ability to move beyond the clichés of this young girl.”
Carlsted is invited to perform a selection from the musical at the SpotLight Award Ceremony in June.
Amanda Imberg, who played the Baker’s wife, and Natalie Davis, who played Cinderella, both received an honorable mention.
One judge wrote “The ensemble of actors worked well together and told the story with insight and commitment. I felt they grew as the story did, that they showed development as performers and characters. Special note here to the Baker’s wife (Imberg), Jack, and Cinderella (Davis).”
Another judged wrote “Amanda Imberg’s comic timing was spot on and she handled the layer complexities of this character quite well. Natalie Davis . . . really captured the true nature of the character as written.”
The musical also received honorable mentions for “Overall Production of a Musical” and “Orchestra.”
One judge described the production as a “true delight,” adding “I truly believe that these two school districts of five towns have figured out what it takes to produce an outstanding musical production.”
In regards to the orchestra, one judge noted it was good, “particularly the violins.”
Another said “applause to your orchestra, clearly seen from my vantage point. They not only played well, but they demonstrated discipline and deported themselves with professionalism.”
Rachael Balsaitis was recognized for technical achievement with the scenic design.
“SpotLight is a very good way to observe the weak and strong points in a musical performance,” Balsaitis said.
One judge said the design of the stage was “quite clever” and added “the pop-up books were well conceived and executed. The consistent and fully integrated concept of set design and properties served the story well.”
Another said, “the set was an absolute delight.”
All outstanding and honorable mention students in the individual categories including Carlsted, Imberg, and Davis, are invited to participate in an opening and closing musical number directed by Peter Rothstein of Theater Latte Da at the June SpotLight Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony, which is a gala event, will recognize the high school musical theatre accomplishments. The event is considered similar to the Tony Awards.
Although non-competitive, the ceremony is indeed a celebration with award presentations.
Community members are encouraged to attend Sunday, June 8 at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.
More about SpotLight
Hennepin Theatre Trust is a non-profit organization which presents theatre, dance, and music in downtown Minneapolis, including the Orpheum, State Theatre, and Pantages Theatre.
Three years ago, it created the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program as a way to recognize excellence in high school musicals.
High schools apply to participate each year and 25 are accepted.
The production as a whole and individual actors were judged on certain criteria by three professional evaluators.
The program benefits include working with theatre educators and professionals, who offer insight through feedback, workshops, and a conference, ending with the June gala.