A week after raising $3,000 for hungry classmates and a day after singing at a Minnesota Twins game, Lauren Senden was crowned a “triple threat.”
The soon-to-be senior at East High School was one of four high school theater performers across the state selected this week as recipients of the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award. The honorees are rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip to New York City later this month.
The Hennepin Theatre Trust annually recognizes students for excellence in singing, dancing and acting, as well as in community leadership. Students submit video auditions and essays online. Fifty were selected to audition in-person for a panel of local artists and Hennepin Theatre Trust staff. The nominees performed for public audiences Monday and Tuesday at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.
“Getting to perform on the same stage where touring Broadway shows have been was pretty amazing,” Senden said.
Soon Senden will get to go backstage at a musical on Broadway. The North Mankato teen doesn't yet have an itinerary for her New York trip, but knows it will include a tour of “Disney Frozen the Broadway Musical.” The winners also will get to see other Broadway shows and participate in workshops with and meet theater professionals.
“I'm excited to have that learning experience. And it's all for free. I can't believe it,” Senden said.
The trip will make Senden's already bustling summer even busier.
She started her summer with her annual bake sale fundraiser. Family and friends helped bake goodies that this year raised over $3,000 for the Feeding our Communities Partners Backpack Food Program. She's now raised over $19,000 for the program that sends weekend meals home with students in need at area schools.
On Sunday Senden sang “God Bless America” for over 20,000 Minnesota Twins fans. She auditioned three times before getting a last-minute invite to sing at Target Field.
“It's the most people I've ever performed for. But I wasn't too nervous, just excited,” she said.
Now Senden is rehearsing for her performance as Beth next month in Minnetonka Theatre's production of “Merrily We Roll Along.”
When she returns from the Big Apple, she'll attend a three-week theater and opera institute at the University of Minnesota where she will tackle two scenes from an ancient Greek tragedy and a Mozart opera.
“It will be challenging and a little scary but I'm really excited to try something different,” she said.
She'll wind down her summer rehearsing for the Minnesota State Fair talent shows, planning her next charity concert and preparing college admission auditions.
Senden has made it to the finals of the fair's amateur contest five consecutive years and last year won a division of the contest for county fair winners.
The 17-year-old has organized and performed two concerts that raised nearly $5,000 for different charities and is planning to do a third in October in Mankato.
“In addition to knowing the impact these contributions have on our community, I am proud to have also incorporated my love of performing into my philanthropic efforts,” she said.
Senden plans to study musical theater in college and make a career on the stage.
But before that she'll enjoy one more year on the stage at East High School, where she has been in three school musicals. In her final year she's looking forward to sharing some of what she's learned with her less experienced peers.
“Leadership, in my opinion, lies in the subtle actions that foster an environment where success can thrive,” she wrote in her Triple Threat application essay. “I take my job as a performer very seriously and realize that my role is also to be a leader who sets an example of what a respectful, productive and rewarding rehearsal feels like.”