For Maya Claridge of Broomfield and Isaac Sprague of Thornton, the 2012-13 season of the Northglenn Youth Theatre will be one they never forget.
For the first time in their young acting lives, they received national recognition for their performances on stage.
“I’m actually not sure how I won this one,” said 16-year-old Sprague.
“I had no idea they even had a National Youth Award.”
Sprague won NYA’s award for the lead actor in a musical for his role as Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Claridge won the award for lead actress (junior division) for her role as Alice in “Alice in Wonderland.”
Claridge said she was surprised she got the award because she was nervous about playing the role of Alice and didn’t even think she’s get the role — she thought she’s be cast as a chorus girl.
“This is awesome, some people thought I did good,” said the 12-year-old who attends Prospect Ridge Academy.
Kimberly Jongejan, director of NYT, said Claridge was so connected as Alice that she was beautifully mesmerizing.
“She has a presence on stage that is well beyond her 12 years of age,” she said. “Besides being gifted with a powerful and unique singing voice, she has the ability to convey the emotions and intentions to the audience with ease. For our rendition, Alice needed to be curious, inquisitive, spunky and fearless — and still maintain innocence and beauty. Maya worked hard and her efforts showed.”
Sprague goes to Horizon High School and has done 16 productions with the Northglenn Youth Theatre. He said one of the challenges of playing Joseph was hitting some of the high notes on some of the songs.
Jongejan said that Sprague was able to capture an audience with ease.
“Plus he just has a natural sense of timing that you as a director can guide and mold, but it’s something that is innate — it’s the thing that can set one actor apart from others and Isaac has that gift,” she said. “For Joseph, Isaac already had a love for the role which showed in his poise and presence. He has a great voice that fits the part too, since the entire show is sung.”
Sprague plans to pursue acting after graduating high school.
“It’s a hard industry to get into so I may look into the business side — business marketing, producing or directing or something like that,” he said.
NYT also snagged National Youth Arts award for Ensemble for “Alice in Wonderland.” Jongejan said she thought it is one of the highest honors a can receive next to “Outstanding Production” (which takes into consideration the other elements of lighting, set, sound, costume, direction, etc.)
“Our ‘Alice’ ensemble really embraced the spirit of what an ensemble is all about,” she said.
“Good ensembles have a collection of very specific and defined characters that work together without any specific ones overpowering another. The ensemble pulls the show together, keeps it moving and sets the pace for all the action.”
NYT has received a total of 21 National Youth Arts/National Youth Theatre awards since 2005 (that includes this year’s 3 winners). It has also received the Colorado Theatre Guild’s prestigious Henry Award for “Outstanding Children’s Theatre Production” in 2011 for “The Sound of Music.” The program has also been voted Colorado Parent Magazine’s “Family Favorite” Top 5 in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 as well as Kid’s Pages “Best Bet for Families” in 2007.
Jongejan said she thinks it’s the attention to details that sets NYT apart from other children’s groups in the metro area.
“We are able to keep things fresh and fun, all the while keeping true to the mission of nurturing the love of the live theatrical arts to our community,” she said. “Next year NYT will turn 20, so we must be doing something right.”