LEMONT – Benet Academy student and Lemont resident Frank Zabilka is competing against the best high school actors in the state at the Illinois High School Music Theater Awards competition today in Chicago.
Zabilka is one of 12 finalists for best actor in leading role for his portrayal of Billy Lawler in “42nd Street” this spring at Benet.
“I was super excited,” he said. “I almost didn’t think I was going to get nominated. It’s a very tight competition.”
Benet musical director Brian Wand said each production only has a couple of roles that can be nominated for an award, and each school can submit one candidate in each category.
Benet student Alex Oechsel was also nominated for best actress in a leading role from the same production.
“Frank and Alex’s performances were so strong, so moving and so fun to watch, there was no question [they were the ones to nominate],” Wand said.
Zabilka said playing Billy Lawler required a strong combination of singing, dancing and acting.
“It was a very demanding and a very challenging role, but it is definitely one of my favorite roles I’ve performed,” he said.
Today, Zabilka will compete in front of Chicago casting agents and theater professionals to determine the winner, who will represent the state at the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York.
He said he is nervous and excited about his auditions because it is a chance for him to make an impression on professional casting agents.
Zabilka, who will be a musical theater major at Ball State University in the fall, said it is his dream to be a Broadway performer.
Wand said Zabilka has potential because he is willing to study and prepare for his roles.
“I think that gives him a head start over other people,” he said.