2 Bay Area students soak up opportunity to perform on Broadway: 'Definitely a dream come true'

Two local theater students who just graduated from high school are on their way back to the Tampa Bay Area after performing on Broadway.

They’re two of 102 high schoolers from across the country who went to New York City for The Jimmy Awards. It’s a 10-day program where Broadway producers and actors teach theater students as they rehearse for the show that closes out the experience.

"I started crying and teared up on stage," Dylan Saavedra, who just graduated from Manatee School for the Arts, said.

Saavedra said it has been his dream to perform on Broadway since he was 6 years old.

"We did it last night. It was definitely a dream come true," he said Tuesday.

Saavedra and Alana Hogan, who just graduated from Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, performed alongside 100 other high schoolers Monday night.

READ: Students get hands-on theater experience at Straz Center

"It was so cool," Hogan said. "I, like, I felt like a sponge. Every single thing they said I was writing down. I was like, ‘oh, this is so great. This is so, like, inspiring.’"

Even to be on that stage was a feat of its own. The Straz Center’s Broadway Star of the Future program chose Hogan and Saavedra from more than 3,000 students at 49 high schools across the area.

They were chosen based on their performance skills, their character and how they interact with others behind the scenes.

"I was just happy enough to be in the top 12," Saavedra said. "That was just a dream come true in itself, honestly."

In addition to their 12 hours of rehearsal each day in New York City, they also got to go to the Tony Awards, and saw themselves on one of the big screens in Times Square. 

"Every day was, very, a lot of work, but it was fun work. There was never a moment I was like, ‘oh, this stinks.’ It was always like I couldn't wait, like I’d go to sleep, and I just couldn't wait to wake up the next day and do it all over again," he said.

Hogan also won the best dancer award at the Jimmy Awards. It comes with a $2,500 scholarship.

"I was so shocked," she said. "It was really just such, like, the hard work of, you know, going to a performing arts high school. This being what I've wanted to do for the past four years. It was really cool to just be like, ‘wow. I did it. I got recognized for all my hard work,’ and I'm so grateful to all the people who were in the dance call who got to honor me and give me that opportunity."

They both also said they hope this isn’t the last time they’re on a Broadway stage. Hogan plans to attend Florida State University in the fall and major in musical theater. Saavedra plans to attend Southeastern University and major in worship studies. 

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