Triangle Rising Stars
Mon, May 2

Finalists Announced for DPAC's Triangle Rising Stars

DPAC is pleased to announce the finalists for Triangle Rising Stars, central North Carolina’s High School Musical Theatre Awards that will take place on May 11th, 2022 at 7:30 PM with special guest host, Clay Aiken.


This year, over 100 students from 32 high schools across Central North Carolina participated in hopes of being selected as a Triangle Rising Stars’ Top 20 finalist.


DPAC’s Triangle Rising Stars (TRS) celebrates outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre, by focusing attention on the meaningful work being done both on and off stage by dedicated teachers and students. 

TRS also serves as the regional competition as part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA).  This regional competition is open to high school musical theatre productions and musical theatre students in Central North Carolina.


The Triangle Rising Stars Awards will feature performances by student finalists from across Central North Carolina, as well as a special performance by 2021 Triangle Rising Stars Best Actor, Joshua Messmore, and 2021 Jimmy Awards and Triangle Rising Stars Best Actress, Elena Holder.  This will be the first time Joshua and Elena will perform on DPAC’s stage, as last year’s Triangle Rising Stars event was held virtually.


“I am ecstatic to be celebrating the return of Triangle Rising Stars to DPAC’s stage,” says Megan Rindoks, DPAC’s Community Engagement Manager, “We have more awards being distributed than ever before, special performances featuring last year’s virtual winners Elena Holder and Joshua Messmore, and Clay Aiken returning as host.  It’s going to be a very special night, and I cannot wait to cheer on our twenty student finalists as they make their DPAC debut.”



  • Madeline Atwater (Bea, Something Rotten, Millbrook High School)
  • Reaghan Given (Audrey, Little Shop of Horrors, Heritage High School)
  • Emily Hartsoe (Jerusha Abbott, Daddy Longlegs, Longleaf School of the Arts)
  • Hayes Hunter (Genevieve Castagnet, The Baker’s Wife, C.E. Jordan High School)
  • Ellie O’Connell (Alice Murphy, Bright Star, C.E. Jordan High School)
  • Hannah Richman (Passionella, The Apple Tree, UNCSA High School)
  • Symoné Spencer (Fanny Brice, Funny Girl, Enloe High School)
  • Hannah Szemereta (Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins, Apex Friendship High School)
  • Hannah Watters (Sonia, Godspell, Heritage High School)
  • Brooke Willse (Fanny Brice, Funny Girl, Wake Forest High School)


  • Noah Colvin (Jack Kelly, Newsies, Enloe High School)
  • Avery Davidson (Orsino, Twelfth Night, Durham Academy)
  • Maximiliano Fernández Escalona (Bert, Mary Poppins, Apex Friendship High School)
  • Ryan Gregory (Edward Bloom, Big Fish, Enloe High School)
  • Conor Kruger (Pippin, Pippin, Enloe High School)
  • Alex Lim (Jimmy Smith, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cary Academy)
  • Clark Phoenix (Jervis Pendleton, Daddy Longlegs, Longleaf School of the Arts)
  • Braden Shepstead (Beast, Beauty and the Beast, Heritage High School)
  • Levi Stine (Billy Cane, Bright Star, C.E. Jordan High School)
  • Joshua Thompson (Miles Tuck, Tuck Everlasting, Weaver Academy)

In addition to Best Actor and Best Actress, the Triangle Rising Stars Awards will recognize winners in the following categories: Best Dancer, Triangle Shining Star, Best Musical, Best Ensemble, Best Choreography, Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Costume Design and Best Student Orchestra.


At this live awards ceremony, winners of all 11 award categories will be announced, including DPAC’s Triangle Rising Stars Best Actor and Best Actress, both will receive $2,000 and an all-expense paid trip to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards®.


This year, the Top 20 Student Finalists will be adjudicated by an esteemed panel of guest judges including Terri Dollar, Lisa Jolley, and Yolanda Rabun.  These talented individuals have vast career knowledge spanning Broadway, television, and the recording industry, as well as experience running one of our areas most reputable talent agencies.  These three powerful women are the perfect team.  Today, Dollar, Jolley, and Rabun are all dedicated to supporting arts education and inspiring the next generation of theater professionals.


National High School Musical Theatre Awards


The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA), was established in 2009 by Pittsburgh CLO and Nederlander Alliances, a division of The Nederlander Organization, to elevate the importance of theatre arts education in schools and reward excellence in student performance.  The program impacts over 140,000 students annually who participate in high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by over forty professional theatres throughout the US.


Since its inception, NHSMTA® has been the catalyst for more than $4,000,000 in educational scholarships awarded to deserving young performers.  Also known as The Jimmy Awards®, named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, this year-round program is administered by The Broadway League Foundation Inc.


Tickets are $20 for the Triangle Rising Stars Showcase and Awards and are on sale now:

  • Online at
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina - Ticket Center at DPAC: 919.680.2787,
    123 Vivian Street, Durham NC

For more information about the Triangle Rising Stars Virtual Showcase and Awards Show, visit

For more information about the National High School Musical Theatre Awards®/Jimmy™ Awards, visit: