Newsies receives multiple awards from IHMTA

by Nia Hoekstra/

The Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards (IHSMTA) program from the Des Moines Performing Arts recognized PC’s Newsies with the highest honor for a musical production and nine individual awards.

The most prestigious honor is the Outstanding Musical Production award, received by PC once before, for the 2016 musical West Side Story.  It celebrates the work of the actors and actresses on stage, along with the tech team working in the background. “I am very proud of all the hard work that all students put in for this musical,” said director Marlo Van Peursem.

The cast also got special recognition by winning the Outstanding Ensemble award. “Though our ensembles have always been recognized, this is the first time it was (awarded) ‘Outstanding Ensemble,’” said Van Peursem.

Student actors and actresses were also awarded for their individual performances. Seniors Braden Meinders, Jocelyn Gritters, Halie Vermillion and junior Carson Breon were presented the Outstanding Performance in a Principal Role award. Senior Mason Donelson received  the Special Recognition for Performance in Principal Role award.

Senior Peter Larson earned recognition for his outstanding technical work and design. “As a sound technician, you are barely noticed and appreciated, so it really meant a lot!” he said.

Larson had to go through a special process in order to be awarded. “I submitted a portfolio of pictures and an essay to be considered. For the final process of this award I was interviewed by a panel of three judges,” he said.

Because Newsies took the PC stage last fall, students weren’t really thinking about that performance anymore. “This award is such an honor. It was pretty out of nowhere, considering it has been awhile since the musical, but it was an amazing surprise,” said Breon.

Donelson appreciated receiving credit for all the hard work everyone put into the production. “It was really cool to be recognized, because I had given so much time and effort into that role. I had a fun time doing it as well, so to be awarded for something you had a good time doing means a lot,” he said.

All students from the 86 participating high schools who qualified for the Outstanding Performance award would have also been considered for a short solo performance at the showcase on June 1 and a chance at the Triple Threat award, which is presented to one one boy and one girl for their abilities in all the talents needed in a musical production: acting, dancing and singing.  Winners would have received a trip to New York City as the Iowa representatives for Nationals to audition for the Jimmy Awards.

As with all school-related events this spring, the IHSMTA Showcase was canceled because of COVID-19.  In its place, a Digital Showcase that features videos, photo galleries and lists of winners is available on the IHSMTA website at

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