Utah student wins national award as ‘Best Actor’ in a high school musical

Local News

Courtesy Henry McGee NHSMTA 3

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 news) – A Utah teen is garnering a lot of attention after winning the ‘Best Performance by an Actor ‘ award at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards held in New York City on Monday.

In a press release issued by the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, Ethan Kelso, 18, a 2019 graduate of the school, was awarded during the Jimmy® Awards held on June 24 at the Minskoff Theatre.

The 11th Annual National High School Musical Theatre competition started with more than 70,000 students across the U.S. who competed in their home states for a variety of awards, including the title of Best Actor and Best Actress.

“Ethan was one of 100,000 overall nominees to participate in their state high school musical theatre awards competitions, said Lexie Hall, Counseling Secretary for the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts. “He was one of 86 chosen competitors to compete on Broadway in New York City at the Jimmy Awards.”

During the night’s events, Kelso was performed in part of the Wicked medley and then sang “Wondering” from The Bridges of Madison County in the finalists’ round.

Ekele Ukegbu, 18, a student at Roger Rees Awards for Excellence in Student Performance in New York, won for Best Performance by an Actress.

According to Broadwaydirect.com, Kelso says he joined theater at the encouragement of his grandparents. He said he used performing as a way of dealing with his childhood. When Kelso was 3, his lost his father and because of his mother’s struggles with addiction, he was placed in foster care at age 8 until he was adopted by his grandparents and raised in Logan.

Kelso received a $25,000 scholarship to college and has the opportunity to perform at BroadwayCon in 2020 for his work as Will Bloom in his high school’s performance of Big Fish.

Kelso won the opportunity to go to the Jimmy® Awards on May 18 when he, along with Abigail Edwards from Green Canyon High School in North Logan won Best Actress and Best Actor during the 9th Annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards.

The two of them spent 10 days in New York benefiting from private coaching, master classes and rehearsals with theatre professionals, while given opportunities for professional advancement.

You can read more about the Utah High School Music Awards here. You can also see Ethan Kelso’s award winning performance here. You can see the video Ethan Kelso shared after winning his award here.

An open house celebration for Kelso will be held Tuesday July 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, 2291 South 2000 East, SLC, Utah the auditorium.

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