LIBERTY — In late May, Liberty North student Ava Wolesky captured the Blue Star Award in theater for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role. A year ago, she won Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role for her performance as Charlotte, one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, in the high school’s production of “Cinderella.” As part of this year’s Blue Star Awards, which honors area musical performances and performers, Wolesky sang “Diva’s Lament” from “Spamalot.” She had not performed in a live show since December 2019. “It’s been a favorite song for a while,” she said. “I enjoy the live component, singing for friends and family.” Each year, the best actor and best actress winners from Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards compete in the Jimmy Awards, the name given to the awards known officially as the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. NHSMTA is a joint endeavor by The Broadway League, The Nederlander Group and the Pittsburgh Civic Light Orchestra. The competition normally takes place over one week in New York City with the nominees staying in dorms at NYU and performing on Broadway at the Minskoff Theater. This year, since it was virtual, the nominees worked through two weeks on material for the show and self-taping their performances, which were then reviewed by judges. This year, 36 regional award programs from across the country participated. There is a best actor and best actress from each, making up 72 nominees. “It has been a two-week intensive,” said the local singer. “There has been coaching, but the biggest aspect has been the technological needs. It’s been a really crazy skill to learn. However, so many people are working virtually.” The various nominees performed their parts in home studios and then sent their parts to a creative team, which Wolesky’s mother, Heather Wolesky, said there are more than 75 production staff putting the show together. “The Jimmy Awards are good exposure for the regional finalists,” Heather said. Last year, there were no Jimmy Awards due to the pandemic. “It’s at least something to have the award show,” Ava said. “There are scholarships on the line for the nominees. It’s a high-stakes event. It has essentially been my summer job.” The Jimmy Awards are primarily a scholarship competition. All semifinalists and finalists will receive scholarship money. Ava has not started college applications, but believes her prescreening for musical theater programs will be in August or September. She has begun looking at songs from musicals prior to 1970 to perform, including “On a Clear Day.” Ava said her hopeful college short list includes Carnegie Mellon, Pace, the University of Michigan and NYU. “I am striving to be a well-rounded artist,” Ava said. “I know there are many jobs within the theater. I am willing to learn and take those opportunities. I know there is no right way or wrong way. I know I have to have patience and interest in many things.”

Ava Wolesky

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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