Theater program receives Spotlight Awards

Cast, crew recognized for performance in ‘9 to 5 the Musical’

Maggie Klaers and Sofia Seewald

Sophomore cast member Phoebe McKinney said she was ecstatic when she learned she received a Spotlight Education award. According to McKinney she worked very hard to bring her lead role to life.

“I received an outstanding award. I was extremely happy because I’ve never had to take on a role that changes so much,” McKinney said. “My character did a complete metamorphosis throughout the show, and it was very exciting to play with and learn how to do, so I was extremely proud to be recognized for playing that role.”

According to theater director Jodi Hatzenbeller, the Park theater program was recently acknowledged by the Spotlight Education Program. Cast members sophomore Phoebe McKinney, senior Emma Yarger and senior Evelyn Nelson all received an outstanding award in their leading role performance, and crew members sophomore Liberty Powers and senior Nietzsche Deuel received an outstanding award in technical leadership. Several other honors and awards were given out as well.

“Spotlight is an organization through Hennepin Theatre Trust that celebrates and helps shape musical theater in the greater Minnesota area,” Hatzenbeller said. “They send out evaluators to give feedback both before the performance and they also have evaluators come to three of our performances.”

Senior stage manager of “9 to 5 the Musical” and thespian president Nietzsche Deuel said the Spotlight evaluator’s comments have taught her valuable lessons on how to be a successful and effective stage manager.

“My biggest note was that I needed to share responsibility and I’ve really taken that to heart,” Deuel said. “(The award) is validation that what I’m doing is right and that I’m on the right path to being a good leader and a good stage manager.”

According to McKinney, she will take the constructive criticism she received from the Spotlight evaluators and continue to better her acting in future roles.

“I am going to keep the critiques and comments that I got in mind while I am approaching newer roles,” McKinney said. “One of the evaluators gave me notes, and said that if I attack every role with the same passion, I will find success in the future, and that really stuck with me.”

Hatzenbeller said the theater company will take the comments they received from Spotlight and look for ways to improve their upcoming shows.

“Usually we look at the general feedback they give us and try to look at what our strengths are and how we can continue with those. And look at our areas of improvement and see how we can apply those to our next production,” Hatzenbeller said.

According to Deuel, receiving an individual Spotlight award also qualifies these individuals for the Spotlight showcase at the Orpheum theater.

“I was nominated for outstanding technical leadership and this is my second year in a row getting that award, which means that in June I get to participate in the Spotlight showcase,” Deuel said.

Hatzenbeller said the Spotlight showcase provides a chance for Park students to connect with the theater communities of other schools in Minnesota.

“It’s a really great opportunity for them to showcase (their) talents and celebrate in the community of theater with all the other schools as well,” Hatzenbeller said.