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VOL. 133 | NO. 133 | Wednesday, July 4, 2018

If They Can Make It There …

Memphis-area students from The Orpheum get taste of Broadway

By Don Wade

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Riley Young and Amelia Beckham knew they were going to New York City and Broadway. After all, they were the lead actor and actress winners from the Orpheum High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Each walked away with scholarship money, too. Young received $3,000 as a finalist in the 2018 Jimmy Awards, and Beckham received a $2,000 special recognition scholarship for her performance in an ensemble.

And the money’s nice, no question, but lasting longer than the money? The memories; the thrill of it all.

Students Riley Young, left, and Amelia Beckham, right, performed on the Minskoff stage on Broadway, where they both were awarded scholarship money for their performances in the 2018 Jimmy Awards. Lindsay Krosnes, center, director of education at The Orpheum, accompanied them as chaperone. (Orpheum Theatre Group)

“All of us were in shock,” Beckham said, “because we were on the ‘Lion King’ stage (the Minskoff Theatre) on Broadway and realized how many famous people have walked across that stage. It was surreal.”

Lindsay Krosnes, who is director of education at The Orpheum, served as the students’ chaperone on the trip.

“You try to convey what being with 78 other young people – equally talented and passionate about theatre – is going to be like,” she said of the weeklong experience. “I don’t think it really registers until they’re in the thick of it.”

Young had attended the Jimmy Awards last year. But this time he was front-and-center as an award-winner, getting to sing a solo; you can see him perform “Memphis Lives in Me” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FCwERVxyctM.

“You’re working with (the best) choreographers, directors and producers,” he said. “There are 14-hour rehearsal days, but it’s exhilarating.”

Now Beckham, who just graduated ECS, is off to Baldwin Wallace University, a liberal-arts school in Ohio; Young (Hernando High School) will be attending the University of Memphis and majoring in musical theatre.

Beckham says she would like to return to Broadway – “just like everybody” – but she will be happy if she can continue to be in theatre as a professional performer. Whether that’s with a touring company or someplace else, such as Chicago, she’s not sure. But she knows it’s in her blood.

Young, too, strives to land a place on Broadway but is also not taking an all-or-nothing approach.

“I just want to be involved in the professional theatre community,” he said.

While the experience of going to New York for the Jimmy Awards was important for them, it also reflected well on The Orpheum Theatre Group’s High School Musical Theatre Awards program.

“As we’ve seen our program grow, we’re seeing people strive to go to the next level and push themselves a little more,” Krosnes said. “What 16- to 18-year-old wouldn’t want to spend a week in New York? It’s definitely had a positive impact.”

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