The Denison High School (DHS) Fall 2018 production of “Newsies” has been selected as an Overall Outstanding Performance winner by the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards.

Only four out of 77 participating schools were given the award.

Newsies was directed by Laurel Olsen, DHS language arts instructor.

DHS vocal teacher Kandice Thompson directed the singing and Ruben Newell, DHS instrumental music instructor, directed the orchestra.

“We always enjoy directing and performing, no matter what the results are, but it does feel like a little cherry on top,” Olsen said.

“It’s something extra,” Thompson agreed.

The Overall Outstanding Performance award is for the production as a whole.

“It’s for how the cast works together plus the technical elements,” Olsen said. “It’s a very prestigious honor and very difficult to achieve.”

The school paid a minimal feel to participate.

Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards judges visited Denison for one of the Newsies performances.

“We received comments and feedback from them about two weeks after the performance,” Olsen said. “That gives us feedback and lets the students know how they did. It’s very personalized, and I think it gives the kids something to shoot for in performing and improving.”

The school found out about the award in early March, but they were not allowed to make an announcement until after May 10.

“They were also nominating schools that have spring performances and the spring performances aren’t done until the end of April,” Olsen said.

Several DHS students were recognized for their contributions to the production and will participate in the 2019 Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards Showcase.

The program is produced by Des Moines Performing Arts and will take place at the Des Moines Civic Center on June 3.

Reed Bowker, selected as an Outstanding Performer in a Principal Role, will perform a selection from his Newsies solo.

Parker Bekkerus, Harlie Wiebers, Jack MacGregor, and Nash Langenfeld will receive the Special Recognition in a Principal Role award for their work in Newsies.

DHS will also be recognized with an Outstanding Ensemble award for the work of the cast as a whole.

A video slide show of photographs from the DHS production will be shown to the audience as part of the Overall Outstanding Performance presentation.

Bekkerus, Wesley Salazar and Wiebers will perform in a medley featuring students from all 77 schools for the closing of the show.

“They get to go to Des Moines and learn the choreography from a professional Broadway artist,” Olsen said.

Bowker and Noah Fredericksen will also audition for the Triple Threat Award program for the opportunity to represent Iowa at the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City this summer.

Only one male and one female student will be chosen to be Triple Threat Award winners, she said.

“This is only our second year participating so we were really proud of how many kids were nominated,” Olsen said.

“We were only allowed to submit eight students for awards - and seven students received nominations. A good musical is made up of everybody involved so we were proud that all those kids were recognized.”

Tickets for the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards Showcase go on sale at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Visit the Civic Center Ticket Office at or call 515-246-2300.

Iowa Public Television will live-stream the event at and a highlights special will air later in the summer.

For additional information, contact Olsen or Thompson at DHS at 712-263-3101.

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