Sammamish residents Milo Stuart, 17, and Regina Basave, 18, won Best Duet Musical Theater Dance at the 2023 International Thespian Festival.
Their Fosse-style jazz routine set to “Who’s Got the Pain” from “Damn Yankees” excelled at local and regional competitions before qualifying for the International Thespian Excellence Awards (“Thespys” for short), held at Indiana University Bloomington this summer.
Stuart and Basave, members of the Eastlake High School (EHS) Drama Club, became the first from their school to win a Thespy, awarded to the performers with the highest score in each competition category.
“It was so rewarding to finish my time as a high school theatre kid with such a prestigious award. I worked my tail off all four years and it felt like it paid off,” Basave said.
In addition to the duo’s dance routine, Stuart also won the highest category of ranking, known as superior, for his solo song performance as well as for his monologues. Stuart is the first student from EHS to receive superior scores in all three categories–song, dance, and monologue–known as “the trifecta” in musical theater.
Stuart and Basave began their theater journeys well before meeting each other at EHS.
“I have always loved singing and performing since a young age,” Stuart said. “I started with piano, as my dad is a piano teacher, and slowly drifted more and more towards singing as I got older and discovered my love for it.”
Stuart began competing in local singing competitions in 8th grade and continues to this day. He joined the EHS Drama Club in 9th grade and began winning regional drama competitions by his third year in the program.
Basave entered the world of theater as a dancer when she was two years old. She later branched into acting at age nine and then singing at age ten. She began competing at age 14 and was appearing in state-level competitions soon thereafter. She also participated in the state-level thespian competition this year.
“I’ve been dancing since I was two, I love quoting Disney movies, and I love playing pretend. Theatre was essentially playing pretend with a script!” she said.
Stuart and Basave first crossed paths at EHS Drama Club before growing closer during dance classes at a local studio. They prepared for the Thespys with help from their school drama director and teacher Kate Wold, practicing together during their advisory period on Fridays.
As a senior, Stuart is applying for colleges this year. He aims to enroll in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program to prepare for larger performing opportunities after college.
Basave is attending Central Washington University and majoring in musical theater. She is working to build an improv team there.
“My advice to those wanting to join theatre is just do it. There is something for everyone in the world of theatre, whether it’s onstage or offstage,” Basave said. “We love new people and will do our best to welcome you with open arms.”