From the dingy sidewalks of skid row to the bright lights of Broadway, the summer of 2018 is something Blue Springs High School senior Sam Aubuchon will never forget.
Aubuchon, a Blue Star Award winner, represented Starlight Theatre at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, a.k.a. the Jimmy Awards, in a weeklong theater experience that culminated with a solo performance of “Grow for Me,” from his favorite musical, “The Little Shop of Horrors.”
Aubuchon played Seymour, the shy, skid row flower shop employee who discovered that the shop’s star attraction - an extraterrestrial plant named Audrey II thrived on human blood.
“There I was, performing on the stage of the Minskoff Theatre,” Aubuchon said. “It was amazing. I mean, I can’t even put it into words.”
The Blue Star Awards are presented to the top high school performers in the metro area by Starlight Theatre, and Aubuchon won the top honor that punched his ticket to New York.
“It was all such a whirlwind experience,” he said, backstage in the dressing room area of the Blue Springs High School Performing Arts Center. “It was basically 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day – working with actors, singers, choreographers – you name it, the best of the best of Broadway.”
“It really was a dream come true. I just couldn’t believe it was happening to me.”
Lisa Lowman, the longtime theater director at Blue Springs High School, was not the least bit surprised.
“Sam is a very motivated person,” Lowman said. “He has a very strong work ethic on and off the stage. I think Sam is very motivational because he leads by example. Every day at rehearsals he is engaged and focused, which in turn gets the other students in that frame of mind.”
While she was not in New York to see his performance, she watched a livestream of the event and said she didn’t miss a minute.
“It was amazing to see all the talent from high schools around the country,” she said. “Of course I am biased, but to me Sam was a standout.”
When he’s not practicing the violin, taking voice lessons or starring in musical productions, Aubuchon is a member of the Wildcats swim team.
“Sam has the type of energy where you can rally a team around him,” Blue Springs swim coach Kevin Bigham said. “Although Sam has had to miss a couple of meets and practices, he's done an amazing job as captain and is really helping the coaching staff establish the culture we need to have a successful program now and in the future.”
Bigham worked with Aubuchon for many years, and, like Lowman, is not surprised by his national success.
“I started coaching Sam in swimming when he was 12 years old and he's always had a great attitude and great work ethic,” Bigham said. “Thanks to those two attributes, he's going to go far and be successful in whatever path he chooses to go down.”
And what might Aubuchon’s career path be?
“I really don’t know,” said Aubuchon, who has touched base with some of the most prestigious universities in the country. “The thing about music scholarships is that you really don’t know what’s going to happen, until they contact you and you audition. It’s all kind of nerve-racking.”
“But I want to go into some kind of music or theater production.”
One of his biggest fans says Aubuchon has nothing to worry about.
“Sam is an all-star,” said Wildcats head football coach and activities director Kelly Donohoe. “He has got to be one of the most impressive students we’ve ever had here.”
“He is an amazing singer in our choir, he has been a lead in our plays here. He is a leader of our orchestra. He also swims. The guy can do it all, and he does it brilliantly. I’ve already asked him for an autograph because he will be famous one day!”
A future so bright, he just might need sunglasses. Oh, and by the way, how bright are the neon lights of Broadway?
“They’re bright,” Aubuchon said, grinning, “very bright.”