Outstanding Lead Actor Nominees: The Bobby G Awards 2022

The Bobby G Awards is a regional high school musical theatre awards ceremony that celebrates educators and students from across Colorado. The event will take place on Thursday, May 26 at 7:00p.m. in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. General admission tickets are available now for only $10 each.  

Let’s take a closer look at the Outstanding Actor nominees. The winner will advance to represent Colorado at The Jimmy Awards® in New York City.  

Two actors huddle together onstage in The Music Man

Thomas Beeker and Justin Valois in The Music Man. Photo by Owen Etter

Thomas Beeker 

Role: Harold Hill
Production: The Music Man
School: Frederick High School

When asked why he auditioned for The Music Man, Thomas Beeker said, “There was no way I was going to miss out on my senior musical.” The Music Man tells the story of a traveling con artist who arrives in River City, Iowa intending to continue his scheme, but ends up falling in love. “The Music Man was such a perfect show to end my high school career with and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity,” said Beeker. 

It’s a high energy, golden-age show with some big music and dance numbers. For Beeker, the anticipation to perform such a classic production served the cast and crew well. “The nerves on opening night were through the roof for everyone,” he explained, “which made it a super high energy show and very entertaining for our audience.” 

His favorite part of the rehearsal process was working with the set. Being onstage with his castmates and immersing himself in the show was an inspirational moment. “Once you get to take a character you’ve been developing for months and breathe life into them with movement and blocking, it is incredible,” he shared. 

Beeker will attend Montclair State University in the fall where he will pursue a Musical Theatre degree. In the future, he hopes to start a career in film and theatre.  

An actor stands with his arms spread as an actress watches

Noah Schuster and Morgan Fritzler in Anastasia. Photo courtesy of Lakewood High School

Noah Schuster 

Role: Dmitry 
Production: Anastasia 
School: Lakewood High School 

Even though Noah Schuster had played a lead role in previous productions, performing as Dmitry felt like an entirely new experience. “With each role, I learn such different things about myself and those around me,” he said.  

Anastasia is a fictional take on the Russian Romanov family tragedy. Schuster’s character, Dmitry, is on a quest to find the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia, or at least a woman who can pass as her, to earn a reward. Eventually, he finds himself falling in love with her. “He’s a kid who was raised on the streets,” explained Schuster, “he’s cold, but slowly he realizes how much he loves Anastasia.” 

An interesting quirk of Schuster’s? His favorite moments over the course of performing Anastasia are the ones where things went wrong. “I was supposed to land on the table at the end of ‘Learn to Do It,’ but I landed quite hard on the floor. It’s very funny to look back on,” he said. And finding joy in theatre is what has made Schuster’s high school experience a memorable one. 

There was an emotional connection for Schuster between all the elements that brought the production to life. The sitzprobe, when the ensemble and orchestra come together for the first time, was a highlight. Schuster shared, “It was such a beautiful, mutually enjoyable experience that truly elevated the show.”  

After graduation this spring, Schuster will study Musical Theatre at Ithaca College.  

An actor sings with his arms spread wide

Ben Sparling with the cast of Annie. Photo courtesy of Lutheran High School.

Ben Sparling 

Role: Oliver Warbucks 
Production: Annie 
School: Lutheran High School 

Ben Sparling didn’t enter high school thinking he’d be the lead in a school musical. His focus? Athletics. His choir director, Mr. Chris Loesel, and his parents encouraged him to try something new and audition for the musical his freshman year. And now as a senior, Sparling doesn’t regret his decision one bit. “I would’ve never known that I love theatre if I had decided to not audition,” he said, “I am so grateful to the people who encouraged me to grow and change, as opposed to staying put in comfort. Their support has been life-changing to me!” 

Sparling was cast as Oliver Warbucks in Annie, a classic musical about a young orphan adopted by “Daddy” Warbucks, a rich man seeking to improve his social image. This role taught Sparling a lot about the depth and complexity of acting. “The amazing directing staff taught me about character development and the importance of silence in a scene.” explained Sparling, “Being a lead at Lutheran developed me into a more dramatic actor.” 

After performing his heart out, Sparling is left feeling blessed to have been a part of the production. “What a joy to be able to perform and what a blessing to be able to do it with such an amazing group of people in the cast and crew,” he said.  

Sparling will attend Grand Canyon University in the fall, where he will major in History for Secondary Education. He’s also considering a minor in Musical Theatre.  

An actor walks onstage carrying a newspaper bag

Miguel Castillo in Newsies. Photo courtesy of Ralston Valley High School

Miguel Castillo 

Role: Jack Kelly 
Production: Newsies 
School: Ralston Valley High School 

The role of Jack Kelly was a gratifying challenge for Miguel Castillo. Jack is the leader of the Manhattan newsies in the musical called – you guessed it – Newsies. In this production based on the 1899 newsboy strike, Jack is a “stubborn and arrogant, yet kind-hearted street kid who always tried to do what was right,” explained Castillo. 

No matter the role, Castillo makes himself comfortable on the stage. Newsies inspired him with its “dynamic narrative” and “theme centered around lifting up the voices of the less fortunate,” said Castillo. Witnessing the show come together in rehearsals was an exciting and rewarding experience, and he felt prepared to wow audiences. “Once that curtain opened and I said my first line, all of the nerves washed away,” he said. 

A special memory formed during closing night while he was singing “Santa Fe.” It’s turned into a highlight of his entire high school experience. “The energy from the audience was contagious, inspiring me to make those three minutes the best three minutes of my high school career,” recalled Castillo.  

In the fall, Castillo will attend New York University to study drama. He hopes to continue performing in the future, explaining, “Whether that be on a stage or a screen, I just want to entertain people.” 

A couple sits on a bench to pose for a photo

Opal Schlessman and Tyler Cox in Little Shop of Horrors. Photo courtesy of Windsor High School

Tyler Cox 

Role: Seymour Krelborn 
Production: Little Shop of Horrors 
School: Windsor High School 

Little Shop of Horrors is a cult classic comedy featuring over-the-top characters, puppetry, dynamic scenes, and nuanced humor. But Tyler Cox was up to the challenge because of the amazing support he received from his directors. He explained, “We have a great music program and directors so I had faith that we could nail its challenges.” 

Cox played Seymour Krelborn, the owner of a massive carnivorous plant and the hero of the story. He had a blast playing his first big lead in a musical at Windsor. When asked how he felt about performing, Cox said, “I think everyone who cares gets a little nervous!” But Cox credits his castmates and lucky audiences for such a rewarding experience. “I always try to reframe my nerves as excitement for the chance to connect with my castmates and the audience, which helps me get out of my head.” 

This rewarding experience was also an emotional one. In the song “The Meek Shall Inherit,” Cox was overwhelmed by the energy and brilliance of the moment. “It was incredibly powerful feeling the hush in the auditorium” said Cox, “It really felt like everyone, onstage and off, was connecting in that moment and it hit me like a train every night.” 

After graduation this spring, Cox will be headed to the University of Kansas where he was accepted into the Music Education and Theatre/Voice BFA programs.