They say youth is wasted on the young. On Monday night, 13 Santa Barbara and Ventura high school students proved that truism wrong. Over the course of an hour and a half, the New Vic played host to 12 wonderfully varied and impressively delivered musical numbers, performed by some of the 805’s brightest young talents. The occasion: the first-ever Santa Barbara Independent High School Musical Awards, where two of the bill’s 13 performers were chosen to represent Santa Barbara and Ventura at the Jerry Herman Awards, which will be held on June 1 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The winners of that event will then head off to Broadway to compete in the 2014 Jimmy Awards.
On Monday, host and musical comedy star Jamie Torcellini did a splendid job of keeping the competition fun and funny. Songs were pulled from across the musical theater canon: Sofia Ross portrayed a spot-on Mary Poppins; Claire Winch, a wonderfully nuanced baker’s wife from Into the Woods; Miranda Mize, a tear-jerking Nina from In the Heights; and Zachary Meade, an impressively plucky newsie. Following all the song and dance, Santa Barbara High School freshman Camille Umoff and Pacifica High senior Jenikka Nunag were awarded top honors for their stunning turns as Elphaba from Wicked and Kim from Miss Saigon, respectively. And together with their competitors, these young ladies taught us that musical theater is not only alive but thriving in our own backyard.