The experience is the best award
Posted Jul 31, 2018
The arts can provide a creative outlet, a form of expression, a way to connect, a way to learn about others, and sometimes most importantly, a way to learn about yourself.
Paige Neumeyer, a graduate of Green Bay East High School and Travis Vandenberg, a graduate of Kimberly High School, know a little about that after nine days in New York City with high school students throughout the country as they prepared for and performed at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in June.
Neumeyer and Vandenberg represented the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Awards, an educational program at the Fox Cities P.A.C., at the tenth annual Jimmy® Awards. As the Best Actor and Best Actress from one of 40 regional awards programs, the pair competed for the coveted Jimmy Award and additional scholarships but learned quickly the experience was actually about so much more.
Reflecting on their experience in New York City, both Neumeyer and Vandenberg talked about how they prepared, not only by practicing their pieces but by watching YouTube clips of past awards performances. They talked about how amazing it was to arrive in New York City, how the dorms made them excited about heading off to college this fall and how working with theater professionals who mentored them throughout the week was an inspiring and one-of-a-kind experience. Both also spoke fondly of the other students who participated in the program with them.
“When the girls in my medley ran through it for the first time I remember just being so amazed. One after the other, these girls sang like professionals. I was so intimidated by all of their performances, but at the same time, so incredibly inspired by their talent and felt simply lucky to share a song with them,” Neumeyer explained. “It was great to see the diversity of voices and even acting styles among us. It was a great learning experience to see what we all brought to the table as individuals.”
“It was great meeting so many other dedicated performers,” Vandenberg said, “We created such strong bonds because we all wanted to put on the best show we could, and needed to work together to do it.”
“Meeting other theater students from across the country was so special. I have friends right at home who love theater as much as I do, and now I also have friends from California to New York who do too! That’s such a cool thought to me,” Neumeyer added.
After all was said and done, Neumeyer and Vandenberg had seen a Broadway show, ate dinner at the famous Sardi’s restaurant, met with industry professionals and performed on a Broadway stage. They each took away more than just the medals that hung around their necks, but life lessons that remain in their hearts.
“This experience didn’t only teach me things about theater, but helped me grow as a person. I have so much more confidence in myself and am much more comfortable with who I am,” Vandenberg said.
“This experience definitely changed the way I feel about myself. A saying that the directors made sure we understood was ‘you are enough’,” Neumeyer said. “…Hearing those words made me realize that I don’t have to be what I think a ‘theater person’ should be. I am enough. I am enough as a performer. I am enough as a team worker. I am enough as a person. And just like anyone else I will continue to learn and grow and continue to be enough.”