Natalie Wins at Dallas Summer Musical Theatre Awards

Natalie Wins at Dallas Summer Musical Theatre Awards

Senior Natalie won “Best Featured Performer” on May 7

OSCAR-WORTHY Senior Natalie delivers her acceptance speech after receiving the award. Photo provided by Natalie
OSCAR-WORTHY Senior Natalie delivers her acceptance speech after receiving the award. Photo provided by Natalie

natalie thumbOn her way home, at 11 p.m. on April 8, senior Natalie received a call from St. Mark’s senior Taubert and got some very exciting news. Taubert, who played Troy Bolton in Hockaday/St. Mark’s production of “High School Musical” in February, told her she had been nominated “Best Featured Performer” by the Dallas Summer Musical Theatre Awards Program for her portrayal of Ms. Darbus in “High School Musical.”

“[Taubert] had seen the nomination and called me to congratulate me,” Natalie said. “I was driving home and had to pull over the car so I could freak out a little.”

Although this awards program is only in its second year of existence, it was able to announce the nominations on “The Early Morning Show,” on WFAA and in The Dallas Morning News. Nominees represented a wide variety of schools and performances.

“Last year, only 29 schools participated; this year, 49 participated, so we’re extremely excited to have [Natalie] up on the stage,” Performing Arts Chair Beth Wortley, one of the musical’s lead organizers, said.

Natalie is the first student from any Hockaday/St. Mark’s production to be nominated. She, along with four other girls and five boys, was chosen out of a pool of the actors from 49 different schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. All nominees attended an awards gala at Music Hall in Fair Park on May 7.

In order to participate, students must attend the gala. Last year, however, almost all lead roles were taken by seniors, and as the gala was on the same night as senior prom, neither Hockaday nor St. Mark’s students could participate in the awards gala.

Actors are nominated by a panel of judges from the DSM program, and around five judges came to see and judge the Sunday, Feb. 10 show of “High School Musical.” According to the DSM Judging Criteria manual, the judges assigned a number on a scale of one to 100 (from below average to exceptional quality) to nominees, based on the “best possible work they [could] create in their unique circumstances.”

During the Hockaday and St. Mark’s performance, judges took video clips of various scenes, sending them back to the complete panel of judges from the program. After reviewing each clip, the judges voted, tallied their scores and announced the nominations.

As a nominated actress, Natalie attended the gala at Fair Park on May 7. Modeled after the Tony Awards, nominees arrived in various vintage cars at 6 p.m. and walked the red carpet. Natalie wore a long, full, mint green dress from H&M.

She was also chosen to perform in the opening number for the gala. Written especially for the show, this number featured the individual nominees from the best actor, actress and featured performer category.

As the first award of the evening, the best featured performer nominations occurred right after the opening number. The real surprise of the night came when the judges called Natalie’s name as the “Best Featured Performer.”

“As soon as they called my name, I ran down to the stage, and I couldn’t really believe it,” Natalie said. “I was shaking a lot! There were so many talented singers and dancers that I had been nominated with, so I hadn’t really expected to win.”

The award for winning “Best Featured Performer” is a plaque with the name, performance and award engraved into it. But for Natalie, the rewards reach much farther than that.

“This was very exciting opportunity for me to meet other high school students involved in musical theatre,” Natalie said, who has devoted most of her time to acting in plays rather than singing or dancing. “Even in the musical, my role consisted only of acting, so I was excited to be part of an event dedicated to a type of performing I’m not so used to.”

From ensemble parts to full speaking roles, Natalie’s evolution in the performing arts has culminated in this final role for her high school career.

“It’s still surreal,” she said. “I can’t really believe it.”