WHS Production of Disney’s High School Musical Earns Multiple Awards


Waukee High School’s production of Disney’s High School Musical will be honored at the Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Civic Center on June 1. The musical earned multiple awards including: Outstanding Overall Performance, Outstanding Student Orchestra, Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role – Ridg Downs as “Troy Bolton,” Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role – Taylor Michl as “Gabriella Montez” and Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role – Zachary Smith as “Ryan Evans.” The awards received by Downs and Michl qualified them to participate in the Triple Threat Award program and audition to represent the state of Iowa at the National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA) in New York City.

“We all own this amazing success! I know I speak for all of the directors when I say that the most meaningful award is Outstanding Overall Performance because it took the work of all of us to make that happen!” Jacqueline Pleggenkuhle, theatre director, said.

Waukee High School (WHS) was also invited to perform as part of a medley with two other schools for the awards show June 1. They will be performing a 2-minute segment of “Audition.” Trevor Wiley, Maddie Grissom, and Monica Brown were selected to represent WHS for the Senior Spotlight. Poni Lejukole, Maddie Pals, Zach Smith and Josh Fett were selected to perform in the show’s opening number.

National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA)

The NHSMTA is a national celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theater. One actor and one actress from Iowa will join student nominees from across the country to experience the opportunity of a lifetime and to perform on a Broadway stage. Students will take part in a rigorous week that features individual vocal and acting coaching by Broadway industry professionals, visits from special guests, discussions with working actors, a night out in Times Square for dinner and a Broadway show and a session with a Broadway casting agency. Students at Nationals will perform on June 29 in The Jimmy Awards showcase at the Minskoff Theatre, the home to Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway.

For the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards, the nominees will be chosen by participating in the Triple Threat Award program. All students who received an award for “Outstanding Achievement in a Leading Role” for their work in their high school musical are invited to come together at the Des Moines Civic Center from May 30-31. Participating students will reprise their role by performing a 90-second excerpt from one of their role’s most prominent songs in front of a selection panel, receive coaching on their solo and work with a guest Broadway music director and choreographer to put together a medley with other Triple Threat students to be performed at the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards Showcase event on June 1.

Based on solo performances, coaching sessions and the group rehearsal process, one actor and one actress will ultimately be chosen to receive the Triple Threat Award and represent Iowa at the National High School Musical Theater Awards. The recipients will be revealed during the Awards Showcase event.

This year, a total of sixteen actors and fourteen actresses from thirty participating schools are eligible to participate in the Triple Threat Award program.

“I had no intentions of getting this award and am super blessed to have received it. Honestly, it was an award in and of itself to be able to perform High School Musical with so many of my insanely talented peers! This is the perfect cap to my senior year. It is amazing,” Downs said.

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