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Young Fountain Valley star bound for Broadway

For the second straight year, Elizabeth Romero will compete in the National High School Musical Theater Awards.

May 23, 2012|By Imran Vittachi
  • Elizabeth Romero readies for her performance during the Music Center Spotlight Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The Fountain Valley resident is graduating high school and heading to Northwestern University.
Elizabeth Romero readies for her performance during… (ALEX PITT )

Elizabeth Romero's parents enrolled her in piano, singing and ballet lessons when she was small.

By nudging her toward these activities, they hoped to coax their daughter out of the shell of her shyness. Today, it's clear that the parental decision has helped Elizabeth gain a foothold in finding the buds of her self-esteem.

The Fountain Valley resident, who just turned 18, is on the verge of graduating, not only as a standout student from Huntington Beach High School, but as one of the brightest stars to come out the campus' Academy of the Performing Arts (APA), according to school officials.

Nowadays, whenever she steps onto a stage and smiles that smile of hers, "You can tell that she is the happiest person at that moment," said Tony Romero, her father.

If you were to watch the video of Romero singing solo April 28 in front of an audience of 3,000 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, she showed no lingering traces of her early childhood terror of facing strangers. In a red dress on a settee at the L.A. Music Center stage, she sang "Gimme, Gimme" from the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

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"It was one of the most incredible moments of my life," she said.

That performance landed her the first-place award in the nonclassical voice category at the 24th annual Music Center Spotlight Awards. She was one of two Surf City-area girls to win top honors there.

The other, Tyler Donatelli, 15, who dances at the Southland Ballet Academy in Fountain Valley, where Romero trained when she was younger, won first-place in the ballet category.

Then on the following day, at the John Raitt Awards for Youth — known as the JRAYs, a regional musical theater competition among area high schools — at the Fullerton Civic Light Opera, Romero was named Best Actress for her role in the APA's production of "Damn Yankees," which also took home the Best Musical Award for director Tim Nelson, her mentor at APA, and choreographer Diane Makas, who also runs the academy.

Romero's JRAYs honor clinched her a spot in the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York, aka the Jimmys, which will be handed out June 25.

Romero's upcoming trip to the Great White Way will mark the second time in as many years that she will appear in the Jimmys. In 2011, she went after being named Best Actress at a regional competition staged by Musical Theatre West in Long Beach.

Thirty girls and 30 boys from high schools nationwide will be competing in New York.

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