Music and magic: Isaacs lauds high school shows; Altoona’s ‘Millie’ best production

The eighth annual Isaac Awards brought out high school’s best in musical theater Sunday evening.

Students performed musical numbers before a large crowd at the Mishler Theatre where they also named the award winners in such categories as best actress and actor in leading roles and best ensemble.

Aislinn Feathers won best actress in a leading role for her performance as Millie Dillmount in Altoona’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

“Amazing. I feel so honored and blessed and so thankful,” Aislinn said of how she felt about winning the award.

“It takes hard work and determination, but if you try hard enough you will have good outcomes,” she said of what she learned from the experience.

Brendan Trybus won for best actor in a leading role for his performance as Jesus in Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School’s “Godspell.”

“I’m thrilled. It’s a great honor. I’m so happy that the Isaac committee nominated me and felt that I deserved this award,” Brendan said.

He learned along the way about his “personal love for musical theater,” and wants to continue with community theater, he said.

Participating schools and productions were: Altoona Area High School’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Bald Eagle Area High School’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” Bedford Area High School’s “The Wizard of Oz,” Bellefonte Area High School’s “South Pacific,” Bishop Carroll High School’s “The Wedding Singer,” Bishop Guilfoyle High School’s “Godspell,” Central Cambria High School’s “Guys and Dolls,” Great Commission School’s “The Music Man,” Moshannon Valley’s “Footloose,” Philipsburg Osceola High School’s “Grease,” State College Area High School’s “The Wiz” and Tyrone Area High School’s “Grease.”

“Every single year, I am absolutely amazed at the talented young people we have in our region. These are some of the best high school performers from five counties presenting a musical number from their own production. It’s one heckuva show,” Production Manager Eric Wolf said in an email before the show. “We’ve heard from the students that they look forward to the Isaacs from the beginning of the school year. Many of them go out to see other musicals at to see what other high schools are doing. Even though there’s ‘competition,’ when they watch a great musical number from another school, they really show their appreciation because they understand the hard work behind it.”

Top individual award winners receive a $500 college scholarship, Wolf said. Altoona Community Theatre, which produces the Isaac Awards, has awarded more than $15,000 in scholarships.

“If there’s one thing our judges have discovered, the talent pool from school to school is amazing and their level of performance is surprisingly equal, regardless of school size, location or budgetary considerations,” ACT Operations Manager Steven C. Helsel said in a press release.

Great Commission School received the 2013 Isaacs Booster Check for $1,000 going to their production budget for the upcoming school year.

“High school students in the performing arts don’t get the kind of recognition that their sports counterparts do,” Stage Manager Kate Wolf said in an email before the show. “That’s why we think the Isaacs are important, to recognize and celebrate student achievement in high school musical theater in our area.”

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.