The following is from an article in the Catholic Herald in June 2022, with the exciting announcement that Catherine Gernetzke, St. Ambrose Academy class of 2023 was chosen as one of 92 students to attend the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (“Jimmy Awards”).
Looking back on her musical career so far, Catherine Gernetzke jokes that her ‘big break’ was moving out of ensemble-only roles into the part of Tree #1 in St. Ambrose Academy’s Wizard of Oz during her 8th grade year.
From humble beginnings to great things, Catherine is now on her way to New York City at the end of June where she’ll perform on a Broadway stage for the first time.
A Broadway Debut
In New York, Catherine will compete in the Jimmy Awards, a national event that includes 92 high school students from across the country. These students will take part in an intensive workshop led by professionals in the theatrical arts and then perform in a talent showcase on a Broadway stage.
To get to this point, the Jerry Awards judges nominated and then named Catherine ‘Outstanding Lead Actress’ for her role as Millie in the Academy’s March 2022 production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers during her junior year.
In addition to the irreplaceable opportunity to learn from professionals, scholarship money for higher education is also at stake for the recipients of the Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress categories and the finalists.
For Catherine, this journey has been rewarding in more ways than she can express. “Some of the students who were in the running have been performing in school and community theater for much longer than me. Being chosen among all these talented performers is a great boost of confidence and I’m proving to myself how far I’ve come and what I can do.”
Diving into summer break
Though the academic year has just concluded, Catherine isn’t taking it easy this summer. In addition to preparing for the local Jerry Awards talent showcase on June 12 – in which she had two ensemble pieces and one solo – Catherine is also in Sun Prairie Civic Theater’s production of Newsies Junior.
Additionally, she was chosen to be an assistant director intern in the same theater’s production of James and the Giant Peach Junior and is preparing six solos and five videos of content required by the national Jimmy Awards competition before she arrives in New York.
“I also have a job, and most importantly of all,” she noted with a laugh, “of course there’s my prayer life and my family life. There’s just not enough time!”
A mission rooted in faith
Despite the busyness, Catherine says she “knows this is a place God is calling me. At the end of rehearsals, I may be tired but I’m also the happiest and most joyful I am anywhere outside of the Mass.”
“God has given me talents and opportunities and through all of this I think I’m being called to have some kind of career in theater or music,” she noted, looking ahead to her post-St. Ambrose plans. “Depending on where I go, I plan to major in musical theater with a minor in arts administration or dance.”
While Catherine’s talents are evident to those who have seen her perform, the emphasis on faith as a part of her performances is a remarkable testament to her character.
“Going to New York or thinking about going into the arts as a career, from a more Catholic perspective, I realize how much it is a mission field where I can live my faith,” she shared.
“The Jimmy Awards isn’t just a workshop week where I get to work with a lot of talented people. I get to hopefully be a witness to my faith and see what God is leading me towards, not for my sake, but to glorify Him through the gifts He gives.”
Congratulations, Catherine, on being recognized for your gifts! We pray that you continue to glorify God in all that you do.