Hardin Valley Academy junior Benjamin Prager said he was surprised to win Best Male Actor during Fifth Annual Bijou Awards Youth Talent Competition.
“I had some very strong competition,” he said. “It was everyone’s game.
“I was more nervous than most performers, but I was really excited, too,” added Prager, a first-timer to the Bijou Awards. He expressed appreciation to family members, friends and teachers Robert Warren and Teresa Scoggins for their support, advice and opportunities given throughout the competition.
“Ben has a unique talent to ‘see’ his character,” said Warren, HVA advanced theater teacher. “He was in my advanced class this fall and he played the White Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland.’
“He imagines what [the character] will look like and uses that image to project himself into the character,” Warren added about Prager. “I think someday he will be a fabulous costume director.”
Prager will portray the mother, Edna, in the school’s production of “Hairspray The Musical,” scheduled from April 21 through April 23.
“[The Bijou event] was lot’s of fun,” Prager said. “I’ve met lots of really talented people through it.”
The 17-year-old son of Ashley and Joe Prager, he not only won the title during the Fifth Annual Bijou Awards ceremony, which was held Saturday evening, Jan. 14, in downtown Knoxville’s historic Bijou Theater, he also won $1,000 for himself and $500 for his school.
“The $500 is going to the Teresa Scoggins musical theater program,” Prager said.
He chose to perform a comedic monologue, “The 26 Year Old Bar Mitzvah Boy” from the play, “Goodbye Charles,” by Gabriel Davis.
“[The monologue] allowed me to show emotional depth and still have a comedic monologue,” he said. “It was fantastically written and had all the components for a good performance.
“My director, Teresa Scoggins, suggested it and told me about the [Bijou] auditions. She was with me through my auditions and call-backs.”
Prager said Scoggins ignited his love for theater.
“I signed up for choir my freshman year, and Mrs. Scoggins encouraged me to sign up for musical theater my next semester,” he said. “I love the [theater] environment and all the hard work I get to do.”
After graduating from HVA, Prager said he plans to study theater as a major or minor in college, but he also is looking at pursuing a master’s degree in business administration and pursue the business side of theater.
His other credits include Uncle Billy in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Mr. Smee in “Peter Pan.”