Sterling Jones and Mya Ison Named Best Actor and Best Actress During Triangle Rising Stars May 15th at the Durham Performing Arts Center

Sterling Jones (left) and Mya Ison won Triangle Rising Stars (photo by Areon Mobasher Photography)
Sterling Jones (left) and Mya Ison won Triangle Rising Stars (photo by Areon Mobasher Photography)
Sterling Jones (left) and Mya Ison won <em>Triangle Rising Stars</em> (photo by Areon Mobasher Photography)
Sterling Jones (left) and Mya Ison won Triangle Rising Stars (photo by Areon Mobasher Photography)

The stars were out at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, May 15th, as the Triangle welcomed the eighth annual Triangle Rising Stars event. Sponsored, and partially hosted, by Marchael Bayne, this event has been shining a spotlight on high school students and their productions, bringing forward the very best talent that the Triangle has to offer. The event is a microcosm of future awards shows that these talented young hopefuls can aspire to. With a flavor of the Tony Awards®, the night was full of music, performance, and awards given to the very best of the best.

Mistress of Ceremonies Amber Rupinta, who anchors for ABC 11 Eyewitness News, kept everything running smoothly. Local students and high school faculty were in attendance to root for their favorite nominees, and it would have been advisable to bring some ear plugs for the audience’s very vocal and often deafening shows of support. The show opened with an original group number, choreographed by Freddie-Lee Heath, that was impressive considering the young actors had only four days to learn it. Indeed, the group numbers were all incredibly well done, and really showcased the teenagers’ talents. Director and acting coach David Henderson is to be commended for putting together a very tight show within such a short time, and with such young talent.

It was during the featured solo performances that each individual nominee got to really shine. In four groups of five, actors stepped forward and performed a selection from their current show, for which they were nominated. While some of the songs were stronger choices to show off the actors at their very best, the actors each had their time in the spotlight, and they all took full advantage of it. Averi Zimmerman overcame some of the only technical glitches in the show, delivering her song impressively, despite the distraction. Anna Vtipil and Samantha Zarate Rangel delivered subtly nuanced performances from In the Heights, whereas Elena Holder and Dylan Gibson garnered laughs for their comedic timing.

Mya Ison’s powerhouse vocals stood out, as did Tara Clinkscales’ powerful lyrics. Garrett Noga’s charisma and impressive stage moves had the audience roaring. Allie Jessee, Caroline Segars, Delia Vaisey, Lexi Rauch, Adam Greene, Aiden O’Connell, Benjamin Richardson-Piche, Dylan Gibson, Evan Martschenko, Kenneth Andrews, Sterling Jones, Tyler Ellis, and Vishal Kasula also gave winning performances that made it clear that choosing a winner was no easy task this year.

The awards segment of the evening started with Best Ensemble Award (winner: Cary High School for The Secret Garden) and Best Musical Presentation (winner Enloe Magnet High School for Ragtime). Last year’s Best Actor and Actress winners Nicholas Kraft and Kaylee Terrell took the stage for a winning performance of “This World Will Remember Us” from Bonnie & Clyde).

To climax the evening, Sterling Jones was awarded the Brightest Star Award (this event’s congeniality award for best attitude and rapport with fellow nominees), and then he was floored again to be announced the winner of the Best Actor award. He was joined by Mya Ison, this year’s Best Actress winner. Best Actor and Actress winners receive a scholarship, and a trip to New York City where they get to study under professional theater artists. (On the June 25th, Triangle Rising Stars’ winners will compete for this year’s National High School Musical Theatre Awards, called “The Jimmy® Awards,” which were named for distinguished Broadway theater owner and producer James M. Nederlander, 1922-2016, and are presented by the Broadway League Foundation.)

The show concluded with a final all-cast performance of “You Will Be Found” (Dear Evan Hanson), and it’s safe to say all of these talented youngsters have found their calling. Kudos to DPAC and sponsors for hosting an event to highlight the kind of talent that the Triangle has to offer, and to support these young actors and their future endeavors. This event continues to grow year after year, and one can only hope it will grow even stronger in the future.

Twenty finalists competed in <em>Triangle Rising Stars</em> (photo by Areon Mobasher Photography)
Twenty finalists competed in Triangle Rising Stars (photo by Areon Mobasher Photography)

SECOND OPINION: May 16th Raleigh, NC Raleigh BWW Feature by Lauren Van Hemert:

TRIANGLE RISING STARS (Marchael Bayne, May 15 at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham).

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Melanie Simmons of Cary, NC is a film and stage actress with a BA degree in Theatre from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. She also studied dance at San Diego Mesa College and acting with Sande Shurin Acting Studios in New York City and at The Actor’s Workshop in Los Angeles, CA. She has performed locally at the Holly Springs Cultural Center in Holly Springs, Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio in Raleigh, and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum in Cary. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

1 comment

  1. This show was incredible! What a joy to showcase the talented abilities of these high school students to a local audience.
    I wish I could say that I immensely enjoyed the show. Sadly, there were some “fans” seated behind me (and 3 others in my party) whose behavior was outright obnoxious. They were screaming throughout the entire evening. I do not begrudge their support of those onstage, however, it was rude to others. We could not hear announcements of students’ names, schools, play or role. We could not fully hear the video montages and parts of the presented acts.
    It would have been extremely helpful if (like live award shows on TV) if the Emcee could make announcements for the audience to refrain from applause or loud cheering until presentations are made (then pause as necessary or make reminders). There were multiple times where my friend was plugging her ears, it was painful.
    I hope this feedback will be considered for improvements to next year’s show.
    Again, it was a great event, well done!

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