Canyon thespian wins gold at Jerry Herman Awards 

Marley Garner performs at The Pantages Theatre on Sunday, May 5. Courtesy of Angelique Sheppard.
Marley Garner performs at The Pantages Theatre on Sunday, May 5. Courtesy of Angelique Sheppard.

Hollywood Boulevard is filled with stars, including Canyon High School senior Marley Garner, who won gold at the Jerry Herman Awards last week at the Pantages Theatre. Garner, who was nominated for “Best Actor,” competed against actors from 40 schools, even having the chance to perform on stage. 

Garner joined Canyon’s theater program as a sophomore, and has performed in a variety of roles, such as “Bart” in “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play,” “Squealer” in “Animal Farm,” “Kate” in “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Mimi” in Rent, and most recently, “Tony” in “West Side Story.” 

Taking on Hollywood, Garner will be able to travel to New York City in June for the National High School Musical Theatre Jimmy Awards. 

She was nominated for the awards by Canyon drama director Art Miller. 

“I was extremely nervous. I literally stayed in high school just to compete for these awards, otherwise I would’ve been homeschooled. Mr. Miller submitted [an application] and people were sent out to watch the show. Then we had this four-day process of learning choreography for an eight-minute routine,” Garner said. 

Eight people were selected out of 68 to perform in front of 2,000 at the Pantages, and only two people were selected, a female and male, to go to New York, including Garner. 

“I did not know what to expect that night, but I gave it my best. I was the first winner that they announced — they said ‘Canyon High School’ and I just lost it,” Garner said. “I fell onto the stage and I was just crying tears of happiness and joy. I enjoyed every part of it.” 

Garner performed “Maria” as “Tony” from “West Side Story,” but states that her favorite role so far has been playing “Mimi” from “Rent.” 

“I’m very thankful to have played ‘Tony’ because it stretched my abilities and gave me a place to go that I didn’t even know I could get to,” Garner said. “The last two years, I really dived into musical theater, and I feel a gravitational pull towards it. I feel like it’s my calling, and every time I’m on stage I feel like I’m alive and home. Everything makes sense.” 

According to Miller, who has been teaching for 11 years and is finishing his sixth year as the drama director of Canyon High School, Garner’s hard work is a direct reflection of the award-winning drama program and the community that’s built through it.  

“The nature of how we work together embodies a very strong rapport. We call it ‘theater family,’” Miller said. “There’s trust involved in the work that we do, that creates a level of independence, but also connection that allows us to grow characters into a nice, beautiful performance.” 

According to Miller, Garner stands out by taking risks once she discovers and learns more about a role. 

“Once she’s discovered a role to its fullest, there is emotional vulnerability that is a part of her work,” Miller said. 

Garner’s success and dedication has been a testament to her growth throughout the years, with the help of mentors like Miller.  

“The best thing about my work is that you get to watch students grow and develop their abilities in the drama program over the course of their four years,” Miller wrote in an email. “You watch their presence, confidence and instincts about the stage develop over time and it’s such a joy to see that happen.” 

Looking toward a future in musical theater, Garner expressed gratitude for those who supported her craft from the very beginning. 

“I want to thank Mr. Miller. I was a very different actress two years ago than I am today. It was with his help, assistance, support and tips that helped me get to where I am,” Garner said. “As well as my parents, I’m just very thankful for everybody that helped me along the way.” 

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