It’s no secret that at one point, I had the slightly unattainable goal of being on Broadway. I don’t say unattainable to be pessimistic- I can’t sing. I can act until the cows come home and perform monologues until the bulbs burn out, but while I love listening to cast album after cast album, singing myself is not my forte. However, that does nothing to stop me from considering myself a musical theatre kid. And luckily, I work in an industry where that is celebrated (though bursting into song will occasionally earn you a deserved eye roll in the office).
The Education programs at the Long Center (which include the famous Summer Stock Austin) culminate into an evening of glitz, glamour, and showtunes better known as the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards. Of 28 participating high schools, 15 walk home with awards ranging from Best Production to Best Technical Execution to Best Featured Performer. Eight companies perform a number from their Best Production-nominated show, the incredible Select Ensemble shows off their talent throughout the evening, and the nominated Actors and Actresses put on ingenious medleys of their respective shows.
It’s essentially the Tony Awards for high schools- and I completely eat it up.
As Marketing Manager for the Long Center, it’s my job to sell and participate in aspects of the show. As a theatre kids, it’s the most fun I’ll ever have at work. There’s something so indescribable (and yet I’m trying to describe it) about being in a room of 3000+ people who celebrate what you do, used to do, and have nostalgia for doing. It’s intoxicating- and it’s what I image sports fan feel like when their favorite team scores the game-winning touchdown.
Except in this case- we’ve all already won.
One of the most popular words used when describing this event is “talent.” The kids are so talented, the directors and choreographers have so much talent, the staff that makes this event happen is unbelievably talented… it goes on and on. Yet no matter how many people continue to rightfully associate talent with this event- it will never be undersold. Watching the Select Ensemble perform a Broadway-caliber number from Sweet Charity that has the audience on their feet, experiencing a student win Best Actress or Actor when they had no expectation of doing so, and watching over 500 high schoolers make lasting friendships from the one thing that holds them all together- theatre- is breathtaking.
It says something when I’m avoiding the work piling up on my desk because I’m mesmerized by a rehearsal. It says something when the Best Actor nominees care more about the friendships they’ve made with each other than who actually takes home the trophy. And it says everything when at the end of the evening, no matter who won, lost, or performed, there’s nothing but a sea of musical theatre kids laughing, posing for photos, Snapchatting, and celebrating what we all know and love.
And as cheesy as it sounds, it makes me so unbelievably proud to work with people that not only make this happen, but make it a priority.