Abby Schneckloth

Abby Schneckloth, who plays young newspaper reporter Katherine Plummer (center), joins with the newsies to form a union and organize a strike against the greedy publisher of the New York World during rehearsals for the Northwest High production of "Newsies" last March in the school's auditorium in Grand Island. Schneckloth was recently named Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role award from the Nebraska High School Theater Academy. She and the other winners will receive their awards at the annual Nebraska High School Theater Academy Showcase, June 7, at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha at 7:30 p.m. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Abby Schneckloth had always dreamed of performing the role of Katherine from “Newsies” on Broadway, and that may become a reality as she is a national finalist for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Within the week, Schneckloth will stay in Omaha practicing and performing with other nominated students by the Nebraska High School Theater Academy to determine which two students will represent Nebraska at the national competition in New York. Schneckloth is an incoming senior at Grand Island Northwest High School, and was nominated as an “outstanding actress” for her lead in “Newsies” as Katherine, which also qualified her as a finalist.

Schneckloth said she realized she wanted to do musical theater when her grandparents took her to watch the 2011 traveling Broadway show of “Mary Poppins” in the Omaha Orpheum Theater. Although Schneckloth was only 9 years old, she had the opportunity to go backstage and meet Omaha native and Broadway star Quiana Smith.

“It felt like another whole world, like that sense of magic you get from Disney World,” Schneckloth said. “I just loved it, and later that year I auditioned for Broadway.”

Schneckloth auditioned for the revival Broadway show of “Annie,” and made it to the second round of auditions. Despite not progressing any further, Schneckloth had the opportunity to audition in front of the director of Broadway’s “Annie.”

“The Mary Poppins thing when she fell in love with it was in January and the audition (Annie) was July, so a couple months later,” Kim Schneckloth, Abby’s mom, said. “She just loves the Broadway stuff now.”

From then, Schneckloth continued to perform through several theater productions at Grand Island Liederkranz’ Children’s Theatre, and even played Annie for the Grand Island Little Theater showing of “Annie.”

When Schneckloth turned 14, she went to the Orpheum Theater and saw Broadway’s traveling show of “Newsies” for the first time. It changed her entire theater perspective.

“Right after we saw it, I was like ‘this is a show I have to be in,’” Schneckloth said. “So, that (Katherine) was always my dream role. I wanted to work my way up to it, I didn’t think I would achieve it three years later.”

Outside musicals, Schneckloth participates in her high school show choir, 14 Karat Gold, and was recently accepted into the new a cappella group, Gold Tones. She also participates in many leadership positions as the co-president of National Honor Society and was in charge of the leadership team of her high school Student Council.

When she is not in school, Schneckloth can be found as a hostess at Texas Roadhouse or helping with her youth group leadership and worship team at Northridge Assembly of God.

With the hopes of attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Schneckloth wants to study musical theater in a Christian facility. Schneckloth will be auditioning for their music and theater program this September.

As for her senior year, Schneckloth said she wants to focus on her academics, music and take advantage of every high school experience she has left.

“I want to keep going strong in my music program and leave a legacy behind for kids to follow of being a good leader, being kind to people and putting passion behind what you do,” Schneckloth said.

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Natalie Saenz is The Independent's summer intern for 2019. She welcomes news tips and information 24/7!