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Aaron Wilcox and his father shared a love of musical theater. And when his father died three years ago, theater became a passion for Wilcox.
In April, the senior at Legacy Preparatory Academy in Woods Cross was named Best High School Actor by the Utah High School Musical Awards for his performance in the school's production of "Fiddler on the Roof."
"I am not even kidding you when I say that this awards show was like being at the Oscars for Utah High Schools," said Nicki Claeys, community outreach specialist for Legacy Prep. It was awesome just to celebrate the local talent, and believe me, there is a lot of talent in Utah's schools."
Winning the Best High School actor gave Wilcox the opportunity to fly to New York, June 20-27, courtesy of Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theater. He spent a week training, seeing Broadway plays and performing with 49 other high school students in the national Jimmy Awards.
Wilcox was impressed with his first-time visit to New York. "It was so big and everything is moving. It's controlled chaos, something I'm not used to, living in Ogden," the 19-year-old said.
During his week in New York, Wilcox worked with other award-winning students to improve his craft. Five days of training culminated in a show in which the students were judged for their performance. Wilcox said the majority of their time with coaches was spent on how to act when performing in front of a judge.
Wilcox's personal coach was Liz Callaway the singing voice of Disney's Princess Jasmine in "Aladdin" and of Anastasia, from the animated movie of the same name. "It was a whole different level then anything I had ever done," Wilcox said. "It was an incredible experience."
Interacting with the other students was a unique opportunity. "The people I worked with in New York were the same as me," Wilcox said. "This was their life and what they want to do for the rest of their lives. It didn't matter to us who won because we all deserved it."
Rick Kimball, Legacy Prep theater teacher, is impressed with Wilcox's maturity. "We spent a lot of time focusing on connecting to your character," Kimball said.
Wilcox performed the lead role of Tevye in "Fiddler On the Roof." The character loses his daughters as they grow up, a difficult role for a high school student to empathize with. "The sense of loss he had with his [real] father gelled on stage," Kimball said. "He was crying on stage and the audience was crying."
Wilcox sings, tap dances, acts, plays drums and choreographs. He plans a career in teaching musical theater and is auditioning for colleges.