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Announcing the 2024 Nebraska High School Theater Academy Awards

Posted On May 16, 2024, 07:42 AM by Sarah Kosch
Students with arms up on stage at the 2023 NHSTA Showcase

We're thrilled to announce Nebraska’s schools and theater students who have been named award winners for outstanding performance and technical achievements through the Nebraska High School Theater Academy (NHSTA) program, as well as two students who will compete in New York at the Jimmy Awards®. All winners will be honored at the Orpheum Theater in the 2024 Nebraska High School Theater Academy Showcase on Thursday, June 13, at 7:30 PM. Celebrating its 11th year, the Tony Awards® inspired celebration is open to the public, and tickets are on sale now!

Broadway performer and Omaha native Kevyn Morrow (HadestownMoulin Rouge! The Musical, The Color Purple) will host the Showcase, featuring middle and high school students from 81 schools statewide. More than 500 students will perform throughout the evening. Awards will be given for outstanding productions, top performers and ensembles, educators, excellence behind-the-scenes, and more.

Blair High School senior Derek Penner and Lincoln Northeast High School senior Samara Follette have been named by the NHSTA as the top two performers in the state and will be honored at the Showcase. They will represent the program at the Broadway League Foundation's National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, known as the Jimmy Awards®, in a performance held Monday, June 24, at the Minskoff Theatre in New York. They will join 100 other students from across the United States for a week of coaching with Broadway artists and industry experts. The students compete for top performance awards, along with 14 additional awards and scholarships.


2023/2024 AWARD WINNERS

Outstanding Musical Theater Production
Central City High School – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Elkhorn North High School – 42nd Street
Fremont High School – Anastasia: The Musical
Grand Island Northwest High School – Mean Girls
Hastings Senior High School – The SpongeBob Musical
Lincoln Southwest High School – Something Rotten!
Millard West High School – Little Women
Papillion-La Vista Senior High School – The Addams Family
Papillion-La Vista South High School – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Westside High School – Disney’s Newsies
Columbus Middle School –Peter Pan JR.
Millard North Middle School – Elf The Musical JR.

Outstanding Ensemble
Elkhorn North High School – 42nd Street
Fremont High School – Anastasia: The Musical
Hastings Senior High School – The SpongeBob Musical
Lincoln Southwest High School – Something Rotten!
Millard West High School – Little Women
Omaha South High School – Disney’s High School Musical
Papillion-La Vista Senior High School – The Addams Family
Platteview High School – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Wahoo High School – Disney’s Freaky Friday
Westside High School – Disney’s Newsies
Columbus Middle School – Peter Pan JR.
Omaha Beveridge Middle School – Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR.

Outstanding Performance in a Lead Role
Anna Metzger, Lincoln North Star High School – Mary Poppins from Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins
Ava Aaron, Westview High School – Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods
Carter Pflug, Westside High School – Davey from Disney’s Newsies
Cassidy Welsh, Papillion-La Vista Senior High School – Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family
Derek Penner, Blair High School – Ren McCormack from Footloose
Emma Wiese, Grand Island Northwest High School – Janis from Mean Girls
Jace Paopao, Chadron High School – Kenickie from Grease
Jack Larsen, Fremont High School – Dmitry from Anastasia: The Musical
Jack Welstead, Lincoln East High School – The Cat in the Hat from Seussical
Josh Spratlen, Papillion-La Vista Senior High School – Uncle Fester from The Addams Family
Loghan Lawson, Papillion-La Vista South High School – LeFou from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Madalynn Johnson, Millard West High School – Marmee March from Little Women
Natalie Kersten, Millard West High School – Jo March from Little Women
Olivia Nelson, Lincoln Southeast High School – Paulette from Legally Blonde The Musical
Olivia Wells, Omaha Burke High School – Motormouth Maybelle from Hairspray
Samara Follette, Lincoln Northeast High School – Anya/Princess Anastasia from Anastasia: The Musical
Sophia Srygley, Concordia High School – Mrs. Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical
Sophie Belka, Lincoln Southwest High School – Bea from Something Rotten!
Tim Tyler, Platteview High School – Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Quinlan Braun, Hastings Senior High School – SpongeBob SquarePants from The SpongeBob Musical

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role
Addie McGee, Elkhorn South High School – Dina from Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Addison Franklin, Westside High School – Seitz/Nun from Disney’s Newsies
Ali Gardner, Millard West High School – Aunt March from Little Women
Brayden Simpson, Omaha Central High School – Bill Austin from Mamma Mia!
Connor O’Brien, Papillion-La Vista Senior High School – Addams Ancestor from The Addams Family
Dav Lee, Omaha Northwest High School – Clarisse/Thalia from The Lightning Thief
Evan Cook, Concordia High School – Bruce from Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical
Gabrielle Staub, Concordia High School – Lavender from Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical
Henry Alvarez, Lincoln High School – Lurch from The Addams Family
Jacinta Flynn, Blair High School – Ethel McCormack from Footloose
Jack Fortney, Fremont High School – Gorlinsky from Anastasia: The Musical
Jeremy Amaya-Bonilla, Omaha South High School – Ryan Evans from Disney’s High School Musical
Jude Perry, Platteview High School – Cogsworth from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Katelyn Hansen, Lincoln Southeast High School – Brooke Wyndam from Legally Blonde The Musical
Kilee Wilkinson, Bellevue West High School – General Cartwright from Guys and Dolls
Lily Lane, Millard West High School – Amy March from Little Women
Maria Nero, Omaha South High School – Kelsi Nielsen from Disney’s High School Musical
Oliver Gray, Lincoln North Star High School – Michael Banks from Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins
Sam Bergman, Westside High School – Wiesel/Mayor from Disney’s Newsies
Tatum Nelson, Wahoo High School – Parker/Louis/Officer Kowalski from Disney’s Freaky Friday

Backstage Excellence Award
Kearney High School
Millard North Middle School

Outstanding Educator Award
Jennifer Brown, Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School
Tyler Koepp, Grand Island Central Catholic High School

Senior of the Year
Caleb Hampton, Papillion-La Vista Senior High School

Outstanding Achievement in Design
Arina Shaposhnikova, Millard West High School – Projection Design
Connor Rouge, Kearney High School – Sound Design
Katie Picard, Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School – Lighting Design
Samantha Prather, Gibbon High School – Set Design
Shelby Jackson & Isabella Davis, Papillion-La Vista Senior High School – Costume & Makeup Design

Outstanding Achievement in Stage Management
Sofia La Fata Hornillos, Westside High School

National Finalists
Abi Howard, Marian High School
Anna Metzger, Lincoln North Star High School
Derek Penner, Blair High School
Gage Havlat, Lincoln High School
Grady Brisnehan, Grand Island Senior High School
Isabella Rivera, Grand Island Northwest High School
Karson Howard, Hastings Senior High School
Laine Cunningham, Papillion-La Vista South High School
Logan Finley, Lincoln Southwest High School
Mekhi Payne, Omaha South High School
Olivia Nelson, Lincoln Southeast High School
Olivia Wells, Omaha Burke High School
Quincy Soto, Lincoln Southeast High School
Quinlan Braun, Hastings Senior High School
Samara Follette, Lincoln Northeast High School
Sophie Belka, Lincoln Southwest High School

NHSTA Jimmy Awards National Nominees
Derek Penner, Blair High School
Samara Follette, Lincoln Northeast High School

The NHSTA Spirit Award winner will be announced at the Showcase.

The Nebraska High School Theater Academy celebrates the power of the arts and supports high school and middle school theater programs by connecting teachers and students to learning opportunities with Broadway stars and theater and backstage professionals. Students also receive professional feedback on school performances and additional performance opportunities. The NHSTA program began in 2013 with 22 Omaha-area schools and now reaches more than 8,500 students across Nebraska each year.

The Nebraska High School Theater Academy is sponsored by Community Foundation for Western Iowa, the Dolezal Family Foundation, Gilbert C. Swanson Foundation, Iowa West Foundation, J. William and Ruth Lind Scott Fund, John A. and Dianne M. Scott Fund, John K. and Lynne D. Boyer Family Foundation, CL Werner Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, and Presenter's Circle.