The Music Man performed at Xavier Prep

The Music Man performed at Xavier Prep.

Students in theater groups at Xavier and Brophy Preparatory High School have nothing to do but “hit the heights.” Six weeks of dedication and rehearsals has paid off in spades when students in both schools recently won awards or were nominated for the prestigious 15th annual National Youth Arts Awards.

Under the direction of Xavier’s theater teacher Jessica Vining and Brophy’s Carolyn Wright, students put on productions of four classics: Little Women, The Music Man, My Father Odysseus and King Lear. According to Vining, the award winners were selected from nominations by a panel of more than 50 judges and reviewers.

The ceremony took place via Zoom. “It feels very humbling to be recognized for our accomplishments,” Vining said. “I am beyond proud of our Xavier and Brophy theater students.”

There were also nominations for adult staff that included lighting, set, costuming, musical direction and general direction.

“I believe that the arts are a keystone to our development in life. Once we leave the stage, our performance only strengthens into greater things,” Bobby Kuehler, nominated for Lead Performance in a Musical as Harold Hill in The Music Man, said.

Theater students hit the ground running after auditions were held the week after school started, followed by an intense six-week rehearsal.

“I love the whole creative process of directing these kids,” Vining said. “There is nothing quite like it. You get to create worlds and stories based on clues, hidden meanings and symbolism. I encourage the kids to find rich and interesting information on their characters and the world they live in. It’s great seeing them make an ‘aha’ moment when they connect with a character.”

Vining designs and creates the entire production, with input from set directors, costume designers and choreographers who supply her with a panorama of ideas. The student body is an essential part of the process, as well. “I consider what stories need to be told,” she said. “I also look for stories that speak to women to help empower our young female students.”

Thanks to the theater teachers’ dedication, Brophy and Xavier students may one day join the ranks of other award winners who have gone on to Broadway, film and television.


• Kate Brink for Outstanding Feature Performance – Kalypso in Odysseus

• Jordan Baker for Outstanding Supporting Performance – Muse and Anticlea in Odysseus

• Grace Dimond for Lead Performance in a Musical – Jo March in Little Women

• Kyra Klonosky for Supporting Performance in a Musical – Marmee March in Little Women

• Alisha Waheed for Outstanding Supporting Performance – Athena in Odysseus

• Sara Watson for Lead Performance in a Musical – Marian Paroo in Music Man

• Andy Wissink for Supporting Performance in a Musical – Laurie Laurence in Little Women