PCHS Theatre Troupe earns awards

Submitted photoPella Christian High School students Tyler Egesdal, Peter Larson, Braden Meinders and Halie Vermillion stand with their director Marlo Van Peursem (left), and the Des Moines Performing Arts President & CEO Jeff Chelesvig (center) at the Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards Showcase held Monday evening in Des Moines Performing Arts Civic Center.

Pella Christian High School's Theatre Troupe concluded their successful theatre season by earning eight awards at the Des Moines Performing Arts Civic Center from the Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards Showcase.

The event was held Monday evening and honored more than 650 young artists who performed this past year. There were students from 77 different high school musical theatre productions across Iowa.

A panel of adjudicators, including performing arts professionals and educators, reviewed all 77 high school productions over the past year and selected the awards for each school. Pella Christian’s fall production of ‘Oklahoma!’ was awarded with an Outstanding Overall Technical and Creative Achievement Award.

This is the third year in a row that Pella Christian has earned the highest award possible for technical achievement, which allowed the school the opportunity to be recognized with production photos in a video highlight that was shown at the evening’s ceremony.

“This is a real honor for Pella Christian Theatre,” said Director Marlo Van Peursem. “To have students recognized for their creative and technical achievement three years in a row is just awesome.”

Other honors from the production included four acting awards. Two students earned Outstanding Performance in a Principal Role: Tyler Egesdal as Will Parker and Jocelyn Gritters as Laurey. Two students earned Special Recognitions for Performance in a Principal Role: Halie Vermillion as Ado Annie and Peter Larson as Jud Fry. Egesdal was also invited to sing an excerpt of “Kansas City” on the Des Moines stage in front of a sold-out audience.

In addition, Pella Christian’s musical earned a Special Recognition for Ensemble award for its Tap Dancing scene in “Kansas City.”

Lastly, Egesdal and Gritters were each nominated to audition for a spot to represent Iowa in late June at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City. Only 76 local students were nominated, spending a day in private and group coaching with Broadway Guest Artists Christopher D. Littlefield (Vocal Director of Broadway’s “The SpongeBob Musical”) and Tiger Brown (a New York City-based Choreographer with credits in “Elf” and “Matilda”).

Eventual winners were Peyton Reese of Davenport Central High School and Cole Strelecki of West Des Moines Valley High School.

The showcase concluded with representatives from many of the high schools who participated in the Showcase’s Closing Medley, which included songs from “Catch Me If You Can,” “A New Brain” and “Kinky Boots.” Pella Christian participants in the ensemble included Vermillion and Braden Meinders.

The Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards program aims to create visibility and support for local high school musical theatre programs and to highlight the importance of arts education. Pella Christian's theatre program is directed by Marlo Van Peursem with assistance from Tim Van Voorst (Music), Brenna Vogel (Choreography) and Daryl Van Zee (Tech).