The Pella Christian High School Theater Troupe concluded their successful theater season by winning twelve awards from the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards Showcase.
The event took place on Saturday, June 18 at the Des Moines Performing Arts Civic Center. Honoring more than 650 young artists who performed last year, students participated in 85 different high school musical theater productions across Iowa.
A panel of judges, including performing arts professionals and educators, reviewed the 85 high school productions over the past year selecting the awards for each school. PCHS’ fall production of “Pippin” received an Outstanding Music Production award.
Only ten schools in Iowa have been selected with this award, the highest honor presented by the Showcase, which allowed PCHS to present a full cast clip at the evening’s Des Moines ceremony in front of an audience at ticket offices closed. This is the third consecutive year that PC’s Theater Troupe has won this award.
“It’s a real honor for the Pella Christian Theatre,” said director Marlo Van Peursem. “Having students recognized for their talents three years in a row is simply brilliant!”
Other accolades from the production included six acting awards. Three students got Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role: Trent Van Gilst (as Pippin), Lauren Dunsbergen (as Catherine), and Abby Dart (as Fastrada). Two students achieved an outstanding performance in a featured dance: Bridget Vande Zande and Avery Verhoef. One student got special recognition for her performance in a lead role: Marie Johnson (lead player).
Additionally, the PCHS musical won an Outstanding Musical Ensemble award.
Finally, Van Gilst, Dunsbergen and Dart were each selected for Triple Threat nominations, auditioning for a spot to represent Iowa in late June at the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York. Seventy students then spent several days in private and group coaching with Broadway guest artists Christopher D. Littlefield, who was the vocal director of Broadway’s “The SpongeBob Musical,” and Tiger Brown, who is a Broadway-based choreographer. New York with credits in “Elf” and “Mathilde”. The eventual winners were Noah Bowers of Southeast Polk High School and Emily Winn of Davenport Central High School.
This year, the Triple Threat program has expanded to select four additional students who will receive full scholarships for the Des Moines Performing Arts Summer Theater Camp. PCHS’s Dart was selected as one of four (out of 70) to win this prestigious honor, the final award given to PCHS Theater Troupe at the awards show.
The IHSMTA Showcase host was internationally acclaimed Lillias Whit, who starred in “Chicago” and “The Life” on Broadway and was the voice of lead muse Calliope in “Hercules.” The evening began with representatives from many high schools participating in the Showcase’s opening medley, which included songs from “Hadestown”, “Hello Dolly” and “Merrily We Roll Along”. PCHS participants in the set included Liz Vink and Rachel Lanferman.
The Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards program aims to create visibility and support for local high school musical theater programs and highlight the importance of arts education. Pella Christian’s theater program is led by Van Peursem with assistance from Aaron Fitzgerald (music), Paulina Loaiza (choreography) and Daryl Van Zee (tech).