Local high school theater students compete for a shot at Broadway

A scene from last year’s Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards at the Smith Center.
Jacob Coakley

This Sunday, students take the stage at the Smith Center, with more than 20 high school juniors and seniors competing for a chance to perform on Broadway. Picture that for a second: high school drama kids competing to literally see their dreams come true. Think the stakes couldn’t get any higher? Neither do they.

“It’s inspirational—they’re incredible,” says Dr. Keith Boman, vice chairman of the board for the Smith Center, and a former high school musical performer himself. Boman’s passion for the stage drives his involvement with the Smith Center, and when he heard about the National High School Musical Theater Awards (into which the Nevada competition feeds), getting involved was “a no-brainer.” He was a judge for the competition last year, and this year was instrumental in the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation bequeathing a $500,000 grant to the Smith Center. The endowment funds outreach to local high schools for the competition, will help expand it to Northern Nevada and covers the winner’s trip to New York City to compete on Broadway in the national final.

For their part, students have been nominated by their schools, and are rehearsing a group opening number—but after that it’s just them, taking the large Smith Center stage for a solo and trying to dazzle the crowd. “The confidence and the poise that these high school students gain from this is amazing,” Boman says. “This exposure to the arts, the competition, the standing on your own and doing your best under a stressful situation, is great training for the future.” It’s also great experience for right now.

Nevada High School Musical Theater Awards May 17, 2 p.m., $10, Smith Center's Reynolds Hall, 702-749-2000.

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