Carmel Valley students win at Globe Honors competition

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Hunter Schwarz and Annika Gullahorn. Photo/Doug Gates

BY KAREN BILLING

Two young Carmel Valley actors are headed to Broadway this summer after shining bright at the “2013 Old Globe Honors and The Road to The Jimmy Awards.”

Canyon Crest Academy senior Hunter Schwarz and Carmel Valley resident/Pacific Ridge School senior Annika Gullahorn won in the categories of Leading Actor and Actress in a High School Musical and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to participate in the National High School Musical Theater Awards/The Jimmy Awards Competition on July 1 at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway.

Hunter and Annika also won $1,000 scholarships during the final round of the competition, held May 20 on the Donald and Darlene Shirley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre.

For Hunter, 18, the fourth time in the contest was a charm — he’s been competing in it since he was a freshman. Last year as a junior he made it to the semifinals and tied for third place.

“I was simply overwhelmed,” Hunter said of being named a winner.  “It was an incredible feeling…I really, really wanted it this year and I worked especially hard.”

Hunter has been performing in shows since the second grade when he had his first role as “Samuel the shepherd boy.” He has performed in Broadway Bound Youth Theatre and is a member of CCA’s theater Conservatory program.

His most favorite role he ever played was the lead in “Bat Boy: The Musical” in his freshman year at Canyon Crest. He said it was amazing to come in as a new freshman and snag the lead and perform alongside an “all-star cast.”

“I love musical theater because it incorporates all of the things I love to do. I love to sing, I love to act and dance, and musical theater is an opportunity to do all three in one location,” Hunter said.

In the Old Globe competition, the young actors had to sing one song from a show they were a lead in and then perform a song of an opposite genre to showcase a different side of their acting ability and voice.

The finalists from that round of auditions went onto the semifinals where they learned group numbers on top of their two solo audition pieces, which were performed in front of an audience and panel of judges at the Old Globe.

Group numbers included the opening number from “Kiss Me Kate”; “Got a Lot of Livin’ to Do” from “Bye Bye Birdie”; and the group closed with a mash-up of “Our Time” and “Beautiful City” from the musicals “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Godspell” respectively.

Hunter said the competition isn’t limited to just the show — judges are keeping a close eye on the performers while they go through rehearsals for the group numbers, checking out work ethic, how quickly they pick up choreography, how they take direction, essentially who will best embody the Old Globe in New York City.

For the contest, Hunter performed a solo (and worked a puppet) from “Avenue Q” in which he played the starring role of Princeton at CCA this year and the song “Sailing” from “A New Brain,” an off-Broadway show.

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