MIHS musical recognized for excellence

Mercer Island High School’s spring musical, “Anyone Can Whistle,” received five nominations for the prestigious 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Awards. These awards are tantamount to the Tony Awards for high schools across Washington.

The Islander actors and behind- the-scenes technicians did not win at the gala held Monday night in downtown Seattle, but were honored to be tapped as some of the best in the state.

Lindsey Hedberg, an MIHS senior and new student at MIHS this year, was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her vocal talent and portrayal of the town mayor, Cora Hoover Hooper. Spencer Hamp is already making is mark as a freshman, receiving a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Ensemble Role for his highly creative and entertaining portrayal of one of “The Boys” and George. The show also received nominations for Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Lighting Design and an honorable mention for Outstanding Scenic Design.

“All the students in ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ were amazing,” said MIHS associate principal Michael Schiehser. “Their performance was outstanding. I’m incredibly proud of the amount of time, effort and dedication they put into the show; and of drama teacher Karen Campbell who allowed the students to meet their potential and actualize their talents.”

The competitiveness of MIHS talent is due to a larger community effort, he said.

“We’re a small school with an incredible amount of talent and success,” he said. “But it is really our sense of community — our parents, staff and students — that allows the students to achieve this kind of outstanding results.”

Stephen Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle” is the story of a small town that goes bankrupt thanks to bad luck and corrupt politicians. The town leaders invent a scam to save the town’s economy which springs back to life — until the head nurse from the local sanitarium blows their cover. Written in the mid-1960s, it is part traditional musical and part innovative absurdist theater, begging the questions, “Who is sane and who is not?” and,“Is our sanity defined by our ability to conform?”

MIHS drama teacher Karen Campbell is well-known and respected for choosing lesser-known but theatrically deep shows for her students. Last year, Campbell chose “The Cradle Will Rock,” which swept 5th Avenue Awards for Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Work by an Ensemble Cast, and Educational Impact. Nominations last year also went to Andy Shephard for Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast, Outstanding Scenic Design, and Outstanding Stage Crew.

To catch a glimpse of the high level of drama talent at MIHS and across the state, the awards show will be broadcast on TVW on Wednesday, June 6 at 7 p.m., and repeated on Thursday, June 8 at 3 and 11 a.m. and on Saturday, June 9 at 7 p.m.

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