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NME After Print: Popejoy searches for the state's top high school actors and actresses at The Po

Photo by Frank Frost Photography

Popejoy Hall brings the best of Broadway to an Albuquerque stage. This Sunday, they will be looking for the best of the best in our high school students, competing for the honor of taking home a Popejoy Award. This will be the second annual event taking place on Sunday, May 14, 2017, at 6:00 pm in Popejoy Hall hosted by KKOB-FM’s Kiki Garcia. 12 high school drama programs from across the state will compete in conjunction with the New Mexico High School Musical Theatre Awards (NMHSMTA). The statewide program is affiliated with the National High School Musical Theatre Awards™ (NHSMTA)/Jimmy Awards. Terry Davis, Marketing Director of Popejoy Hall shared the importance of the awards:

“The Popejoy Awards show off the tremendous talent found in our high schools. At the same, we help those talented young kids to grow," shared Davis. "We work to help them be better performers. When we send them back to school, those who are returning, we want them to pay it forward - helping others in their school to be more. We also want to support the teachers by offering encouragement for what they’re doing and ways to help them improve their students.”

Along with the drama programs, each school has nominated individual students for Best Actor and Best Actress awards. 59 students are competing for the 20 finalist slots available for those two awards. The show features ensemble and solo performances from the nominees, representative performances from five schools and a special medley performed by actors and actresses chosen by their high school directors. At the end of the evening, judges with professional theater credits, will assess the talent of the nominees and determine the winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress awards. Three trophies will also be awarded for school productions: Best Production, Best Direction, and Best Ensemble.

Photo by Frank Frost Photography

“We know that students who perform with their high school drama groups, especially when producing something as daunting as a musical, grow. They become better at working together. They find creative solutions to difficult problems and get rewarded for that," says Davis. "They have something to get excited about, which helps them stay in school. Theater also helps young people find their own core. Even if they never go on to be performers, they challenge themselves and discover that they can meet obstacles and conquer them.”

The Best Actor and Actress will join 72 other high school students from across the country in New York City to work with musical theater professionals and perform on a Broadway stage. Winners of the several Jimmy Awards, including Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress, will be selected by a panel of industry experts on June 26, 2017, at the Minskoff Theatre.

Photo by Frank Frost Photography

And The Nominees Are...

The nominees for Best Musical Performance by an Actress are [listed alphabetically by last name]:

• Jessica Erkkila, Los Alamos High School

• Kayla Fallick, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School

• Ariana Gant, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School

• Sabina Lueras, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School

• Katherine Noel, Rio Rancho High School

• Lauren Partin, Los Alamos High School

• Genevieve Romero, Rio Rancho High School

• Annette Valesco, West Mesa High School

• Silce Villalobos, Cibola High School

• Madi Young, Cibola High School

The nominees for Best Musical Performance by an Actor are [listed alphabetically by last name]:

• Trey Caperton, Albuquerque Academy

• Denzel David, Cibola High School

• Benjamin Hanlon, Los Alamos High School

• Dakota Lopez, Cibola High School

• Ethan Lum, Rio Rancho High School

• Corban Mejia, West Mesa High School

• Colin Miller, Sandia Preparatory School

• Joel Robinson, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School

• Walker Sikkens, Rio Rancho High School

• Connor Stanfield, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School

We are also pleased to announce that the nominees for Best Production, Best Direction, and Best Ensemble are (listed alphabetically by school):

• Albuquerque Academy’s production of Chaplin

• Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School’s production of Into the Woods

• Los Alamos High School’s production of Mary Poppins

• Rio Rancho High School’s production of Big Fish

• Sandia Preparatory School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone


​Tickets for the Popejoy Awards show are available at the UNM Ticketing Offices at the UNM Bookstore, The WisePies Arena (formerly The Pit), and online at To learn more visit

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