SOUTH GATE — Two students from Legacy Visual and Performing Arts High School, Maria Hernandez and Jessica Nava, were the winners of this year’s Show Search competition produced by the Foundation for New American Musicals.
The students won a $1,000 scholarship courtesy of Wells Fargo Capital Finance for being a finalist and another $1,000 scholarship as the grand prize winners. There was a total of three musicals in the high school division and three musicals in the college division.
Hernandez and Nava, both sophomores, were the only finalists from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the only finalists who took musical theatre writing class in a public school, and two of only a few Latinos in the finals.
Their all-original musical, “Grandma’s Keeper,” was produced at Legacy, featuring Abi Rodriguez, also a Legacy sophomore, and directed by Kevin Castellanos, who just graduated.
The production was recorded and submitted to the contest in April.
“I still can’t process the win actually, but the class was amazing and brought out a new passion I didn’t know I had,” Hernandez said. “The mentor brought out ideas that can make something great even better, and the final performance was amazing as you see your work coming to life.”
Her writing partner, Nava said: “All of this feels like a dream. The win wasn’t something I expected. Not that I didn’t have faith, but it’s just so shocking to me.”
Edward Trimis, their show-writing teacher who also happens to be the new principal of Legacy Visual and Performing Arts High School, said, “Right after the winners were announced, I pulled Maria and Jessica to the side and spoke with just the two of them. ‘Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything you want to do.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our writers or more excited for them,” Trimis added. “While their musical, , is moving, heart-warming, and relevant, touching upon a theme not often enough explored, their success goes much further than winning a competition.”
The Foundation for New American Musicals and Santa Monica College asked Southern California high school and college students ages 14-24 to create new short (10-minute) musicals for Show Search. The biennial event has previously attracted submissions from more than 40 states and helped increase the intellectual and professional development of the contestants.
The current Show Search was limited to the Los Angeles area where no high schools, colleges or universities had previously offered show writing courses.
Over the last month, the two young playwrights refined their show working with a mentor assigned by the foundation, and on June 8-11 observed rehearsals of their show and the other finalists’ shows as well as participated in musical theatre master classes sponsored by the foundation.
The event was hosted by Santa Monica College Theatre Arts Department.