CJ Performing Arts Takes Home 22 Awards and a Broadway Debut

Over the top! Performing arts theatre students, coached and supported by a professional staff — tops in their own crafts — delivered two excellent productions this year, with those showering accolades on the cast and crew going well beyond the CJ auditorium. The Miami Valley High School Theatre Association named CJ’s Radium Girls as Outstanding Play and Seussical as Outstanding Musical Productions with four students named Outstanding Actor/Actress in a musical and one student nominated to make her Broadway debut at the Jimmy Awards in New York City.

“Being a part of MVHSTA has been such a positive experience for our students and program,” said Caitlin Bennett, drama and choir teacher. “The ways that Dayton Live supports the high school theatre community is wonderful. Our students receive feedback for their performances, and it is such a supportive and celebratory environment. We’re so excited for all the ways our students and program are being recognized this year!”

Since the production of Seussical took top musical honors, members of the cast were invited to perform a number from the production on the Schuster Center stage June 6, which features CJ’s Outstanding Actor/Actresses: Caleigh Coyle ‘24, Evanson Good ‘23, Eve Palmer and Maggie Weckesser ‘24. 

The experience of performing arts theatre has encouraged each to reach beyond their comfort zone, creating greater confidence. 

“In rehearsals, when I was shying away from making big choices, I always found the best course of action was to try something out and work from there. Show up, put in the work, and try your best at everything you do,” said Coyle. “Mrs. Bennett’s favorite Amy Poehler quote really helped me: ‘No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.’”

All agreed that the staff played key roles in their growth through their experiences with the productions.

“Through theatre, I am able to share parts of myself I struggle to express outside of performing,” said Palmer. “The performing arts staff at CJ is so supportive, and I am incredibly grateful for the work they put into each production to allow performing arts students to discover and develop their passion for performance.”

And as Coyle, Palmer and Weckesser ranked in MVHSTA’s top seven actresses, they participated in the Jimmy’s Workshop. From that workshop, one actor and one actress is sent to New York to participate in a weeklong workshop and clinics with Broadway professionals — all culminating in a performance. Maggie Weckesser’s heart was beating fast when she got the call that she had been selected to participate in this amazing experience.

“It was absolutely surreal to be selected,” said Weckesser. “I tried my best to sound professional in accepting the offer but I was definitely freaking out and completely over the moon! I then got to celebrate with the amazing CJ performing arts staff which was just a dream as they all have done so much for me to have this opportunity.”

Weckesser will continue to prepare for the ten day Broadway experience. Each day will be spent preparing for the Jimmy Awards Showcase on June 26, 2023 at the Minskoff Theater, the very theater that houses The Lion King Broadway musical production.  

“During this experience I hope to gain a better understanding of the theatre industry as a whole and what it will take to have a career in the arts. I have always dreamed of performing on Broadway and the fact that I’m making my Broadway debut at 17 is simply surreal to me,” said Weckesser. “I feel so honored to represent CJ and The Miami Valley High School Theatre Awards in this amazing opportunity.”

As the Miami Valley nominee for the Jimmy Awards, Weckesser was honored with the opportunity to sing her Jimmy Awards solo during The MVHSTA Showcase.

“Performing my Jimmy’s Solo at The Schuster was absolutely a dream come true,” said Weckesser. “Growing up I attended many touring Broadway productions at The Schuster Center. Little Maggie would have never imagined she would be up there one day. The energy from the audience was unlike anything I have ever felt and after I left the stage I couldn’t help but cry the happiest tears! It was truly a God moment for me, nothing has ever felt so right as performing in MVHSTA Showcase Night did, and getting to do it with so many of my amazing classmates from CJ was a huge plus.”

It was a phenomenal night overall as CJ took home a total of 22 awards both on stage and behind the scenes:

Jimmy Awards Nominee 
Maggie Weckesser

Outstanding Production of a Musical
Seussical the Musical

Outstanding Production of a Play
Radium Girls

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical
Seussical the Musical

Merit for Ensemble in a Play
Radium Girls

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Caleigh Coyle
Eve Palmer
Maggie Weckesser

Merit for Lead Actress in a Musical
Olivia Cotton
Ayriel Dickerson

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
Evanson Good

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
Reese Hawkins

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
Ka’Vaughn Epps
Nick Sabbagh

Merit for Lead Actress in a Play
Lily Bihl

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Jason Caldwell

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
Olivia Cotton
Caleigh Coyle

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
Evanson Good

Merit for Supporting Actor in a Play
Gabe Armentrout

Outstanding Stage Management of a Play
Meghan Jette

Merit for Student Sound Design for a Play
Jacob Schaefer