Ready for the spotlight

Four local graduates awarded Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre scholarships

Destined for stardom: Brielle Lewandowski, Emily Kirsch, Olivia Andrews and Wyatt Mellus were the recipients of Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre’s 2019 college scholarships, which are given to Neshaminy High School students planning to study the fine or performing arts. Source: Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre

The final weeks of senior year are always chock-full of highly-anticipated traditions. There’s prom, signing friends’ yearbooks and, for Neshaminy High School students, the annual senior awards night, which was held on May 30 in the Theodore Kloos Auditorium.

For four students, the evening was extra special – they got one step closer to achieving dream careers in music, theater and the performing arts.

During the ceremony, it was announced that Olivia Andrews (Levittown), Emily Kirsch (Langhorne), Brielle Lewandowski (Feasterville) and Wyatt Mellus (Langhorne) were the recipients Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre’s 2019 college scholarships, which totaled $4,500.

Founded in 1956, NVMT, the recipient of six International Music and Entertainment Association Awards, is a nonprofit scholarship organization that has been offering competitive grants since its inception. Each year, these are awarded to students graduating from the Neshaminy School District who plan to study the fine and performing arts in college.

Proceeds from NVMT’s annual spring musical, in addition to contributions from generous donors, help fund the scholarships. My Fair Lady was presented this past spring, with the all-volunteer cast starring Langhorne’s Ken Marblestone as Professor Henry Higgins and Trevose’s Joe Harris as Harry.

To date, NVMT has awarded more than $154,000 in scholarships thanks to community support through ticket purchases.

“NVMT’s scholarship grant program has been one of the most positive and rewarding forces behind the success of our theater group for more than a half century,” said Tom Urquhart, president of the organization. “While we strive for excellence in our stage productions, it is always with the objective of providing funds for our scholarship grants in order to support deserving young people such as these in their quest to achieve their dreams. We’ve been most proud of our recipients and truly happy to have been able to help them.”

Andrews received support from NVMT through the Evelyn McLean Memorial Scholarship Fund. In addition to being in the top quarter of her graduating class and a member of the National Honor Society, she has been an active member of the Neshaminy High School Drama Leadership Board, the Pennsylvania Thespian Troupe and Leadership Workshop, and a team leader in the American Cancer Society’s Roadies for a Cure.

She has performed at the Pennsylvania and International Thespian Festivals, the Bucks County Playhouse, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Select Choir, and was a finalist at the New York City Dance Alliance competition. Andrews will attend Syracuse University in the honors program as a musical theater major and plans a career in the performing arts.

Kirsch was recognized by NVMT through its George W. Kinsley IV Memorial Fund for Students of the Woodwind Instruments. She is a straight-A student who has been a member of her school’s Wind Ensemble, Symphony Strings, Orchestra, Concert Choir, Select Choir and musicals. Kirsch has also served as both a section leader and drum major in the school’s Marching Band, and has been involved in the Bucks County Music Educators Association band and Neshaminy Summer Stock Theater.

She will attend Susquehanna University in the fall and major in music education with a minor in theater.

Lewandowski, a member of the National Honor Society, received support through NVMT’s Dotti Gelenberg Memorial Scholarship Fund. She has been involved since her freshman year in the high school’s auditioned Drama Club and Select Choir, and participated in the school’s musical productions. She was also selected to perform as a soloist at the 2018 International Thespian Society.

In the fall, Lewandowski will attend DeSales University, majoring in theater with a concentration in musical theater, with plans to pursue a career in theater.

Mellus, also a member of the National Honor Society, received a grant through NVMT’s Joseph J. McGlade Scholarship Fund. At Neshaminy, Mellus has been an active member of the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Band, String Quartet and Marching Band, where he served as a section leader and was elected vice president. Mellus performed in the orchestra pit for several school musicals.

He was selected by audition for the Bucks County Music Educators Band in grades 10 through 12, was awarded the Outstanding Marching Award twice, and is a member of the Cadets 2 Drum Corps. Mellus will study music history at Temple University, with hopes of going on to pursue a graduate degree and doctorate in ethnomusicology. He looks forward to a career as a researcher, college-level educator or music journalist.

The application process for 2020 scholarships, which are open to graduating seniors of Neshaminy High School, will be available next spring. As for NVMT’s 2020 spring musical, the company will announce the production later this summer.

For more information, visit nvmt.org, email nvmt@verizon.net or call 215-860-1584.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com