By Joey McWilliams
DALLAS – Cayden Abrams was recently granted an opportunity to see the musical theatre stage in a new light.
Abrams, a sophomore at Durant High School, was invited to attend the Seventh Annual Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards. She was nominated for Best Featured Actress for her performance of Mrs. Snoring Man in the DHS presentation of White Christmas earlier this school year.
She was one of 12 to be nominated for that award and the only one from Oklahoma to receive a nomination.
Those nominated went to Dallas for four weekends prior to the event to take part in clinics and prepare to perform for the awards ceremony.
Deborah Clements, director of the Durant High School choral department, said the students had to chance to work with professionals in the business.
“When I took her down for the first rehearsal, which was a vocal rehearsal with all the featured actor and actress nominees and best leading actor and actress nominees, they got to work with Mark Brymer, a very well-known arranger. He was also the orchestra conductor for the show,” Clements said.
Following the four weekends of training and clinic-type teaching, the students went to Dallas for all-day rehearsals on Wednesday, May 16 and through the day on Thursday, May 17 for the awards ceremony that night.
The evening is patterned after the Tony Awards® on Broadway and the nominees received the red carpet treatment upon their arrival at the Dallas Music Hall and were chauffeured to the event in vintage convertibles.
Abrams said the experience was initially a lot to take in.
“Well, at first I was kind of freaking out because I had no friends,” Abrams said. “But it was a lot of fun. It was a surreal experience because I got to experience first hand what actual performers do and the pressure that is put on them, but also the responsibility and the excitement that went into just the opening of the number.”
It was something she said she hopes to get to do again and she said she learned many things along the way.
“You have to carry your own weight and you can’t just depend on other people to learn things,” Abrams said. “I learned that I’m not as bad as I thought I was.
“And that you just have to work as a team. You can’t just try to outshine other people; you have to work to make it the best performance you can give.”