Triangle Rising Star Awards: 2013 Winners Announced!

Winners Announced: Anna Higginson and Sam Hamashima

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Along with Theatre in the Park, Playmakers Repertory Company and ABC 11, DPAC hosted this year’s Triangle Rising Star Awards onstage on Sunday evening, June 2.  The Triangle Rising Star Awards (TRS) is a program that brings together area high school musical theater students to perform together and compete against one another for educational scholarships. Bailey’s Fine Jewelry presented the awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, while DPAC staff members also presented the awards for local high school productions in Best Ensemble and Best Musical.

Best Actress: Anna Higginson of Sanderson High School (Millie, Thoroughly Modern Millie)

Best Actor: Sam Hamashima of Greenhope High School (Baker, Into the Woods)
Best Ensemble: Oklahoma! – Durham Academy
Best Musical: Once Upon a Mattress – Enloe High School

“It is a privilege to be representing the Triangle Rising Star program in New York City,” raves Sam Hamashima, winner for this year’s Best Actor. “But the best part of this experience has been the people I have met and friends I have made. It is a blessing an honor to be part of such a fantastic team.”

Directed by David Henderson, over 400 patrons witnessed the 20 finalists open with “We Go Together” (Grease). Diane Petteway, Music Director and Arranger, led a full band to accompany the student performances. In a Broadway medley, each student had their own chance to shine in solo performances from their individual characters – including the full ensemble joining Durham School of the Arts’ Angeline Fuqua in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (The Wizard of Oz). After awards were presented, the entire cast of finalists closed out the evening with a tear-jerking rendition of “Seasons of Love” (Rent).
The Triangle Rising Star Awards is a member of The National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA) on July 1, a national program that unites high school musical theater awards programs from across the country under one roof. The two student winners are provided with $1,000 academic scholarships along with an invitation to represent TRS in an all-expense paid trip to the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City for one week, June 25 – July 2, 2013. The students will train with real Broadway actors, directors and producers. Their week of coaching, auditions and rehearsals will conclude with each student’s life-long dream at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. At which, a panel of judges will choose two students for the coveted Jimmy™ Awards for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress.


The Best Actor and Best Actress were awarded on Sunday night after a four months’ long audition process. Representatives from DPAC, Theatre in the Park, Playmakers Repertory Company and ABC 11 attended high school musicals from area counties, including: Chatham, Durham, Harnett, Johnston, Orange and Wake Counties. Over 35 applicants auditioned for the program, which was narrowed down to 20 finalists, including 12 women and eight men.


  • Chatham County, Jordan Matthews High School: Ashley Griffin (Fiona, Brigadoon)
  • Durham County, Durham Academy: Elizabeth Eason (Laurey, Oklahoma!)
  • Durham County, Durham School of the Arts: Angeline Fuqua (Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz)
  • Harnett County, Western Harnett High School: Hayley Jo Womack (Belle, Beauty and the Beast)
  • Orange County, East Chapel Hill High School: Laura Bevington (Marian Paroo, The Music Man)
  • Wake County, Apex High School: Ainsley Seiger (Kim MacAfee, Bye Bye Birdie)
  • Wake County, Cary High School: Sarah Koop (Rev. Mother, Nunsense)
  • Wake County, Enloe High School: Sarah Gordon (Winifred, Once Upon a Mattress)
  • Wake County, Garner Magnet High School: Leia Gearhart (Rizzo, Grease)
  • Wake County, Raleigh Charter High School: Shelby Cox (Laurey, Oklahoma!)
  • Wake County, Sanderson High School: Anna Higginson (Millie, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
  • Wake County, Sanderson High School: Ruby Gibbs (Muzzy, Thoroughly Modern Millie)



  • Durham County, Durham Academy: Alex Flores-Burgess (Ali Hakim, Oklahoma!)
  • Durham County, Voyager Academy High School: Kai Kelley (King, King and I)
  • Johnston County,Clayton High School: Kevin Thorne (Cat, Honk The Musical)
  • Wake County, Broughton High School: Zachary Dale (Joseph, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)
  • Wake County, Green Hope High School: Sam Hamashima (Baker, Into the Woods)
  • Wake County, Panther Creek High School: Aaron Miller (Frank Butler, Annie Get Your Gun)
  • Wake County, Raleigh Charter High School: Bailey Griffin (Curly, Oklahoma!)
  • Wake County, St. Thomas More Academy: Benjamin Goldman (Jesus, Godspell)


The Triangle Rising Star Awards are in conjunction with The National High School Musical Theater Awards which is a national celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theater.  Established by Nederlander Alliances and Pittsburgh CLO, the program recognizes individual artistry in vocal, dance, and acting performance, as well as honors teachers and their schools’ commitment to excellence in performing arts education.



About DPAC


Since its opening in 2008, DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center, has become the center for live entertainment in the Triangle. Recognized for its contemporary design, DPAC features 2,700 seats, intimate sightlines and state-of-the art sound and video. Listed four times in the top 10 in Pollstar magazine’s annual worldwide theater attendance rankings, DPAC is currently the #5 ranked theater in the U.S.

What’s up next at DPAC? Back by popular demand the King of Queens Kevin James (June 5), the Soulful Summer Tour with Anthony Hamilton (June 8), followed by summer’s ultimate hip hop music experience Kings of the Mic with LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, and De La Soul (June 16).

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By Susie Potter

Susie Potter is a 2009 graduate of Meredith College where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina Statue University. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. For more information visit