Above, Maria Hernandez (left) and Jessica Nava (front) are finalists in the New American Musicals contest. Classmates Saray Acevedo and Danny Carrillo also submitted their musical, “Happy,” in the competition.

By Gayle Pollard-Terry
Office of Communications

What is your favorite Broadway musical?  Is it “Hamilton,” the current hit based on the life of one of America’s founding fathers?  Or the longest-running standard, “Phantom of the Opera?”

How about “Grandma’s Keeper?”  You’ve never heard of it?  That could change soon.

It is the original work of Maria Hernandez and Jessica Nava, students at the Legacy Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) High School in South Gate. The girls were named as finalists in the Show Search competition produced by the Foundation for New American Musicals – an honor that carries a $1,000 prize. The project was created for their Writing for Musical Theater: Music, Lyrics and Book course.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our writers and more excited for them,” said Dr. Ed Trimis, the VAPA principal who also teaches the Musical Theater course. “While their musical, ‘Grandma’s Keeper,’ is moving, heart-warming, and relevant, touching upon a theme not often enough explored, their success goes much further than winning a competition. They have shown that through hard work, staying true to yourself and your art, and perseverance, you really can do anything.”

“Grandma’s Keeper” tells the story of Zoe, who tries to grant the dying wish of a grandmother she never knew. The production features two songs, “Gone” and “Worth.” The worldwide premiere of “Grandma’s Keeper” and five other finalists will be held on June 11 at Santa Monica College. The winner will receive $1,000 per show, thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo Capital Finance to encourage the continued pursuit of their education and budding writing careers.

Trimis’ class provides an opportunity to learn all about musicals, how they are created, how they are produced, and most importantly, how they can get inside a musical and create one on their own. It also coveris the basics of songwriting, story and plot analysis, character development and a thorough overview of Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, from the early 1900s to present day.

“The next Lin Manuel-Miranda (‘Hamilton’) or Stephen Schwartz (‘Wicked’) has to come from somewhere,” Trimis said. “Possibly from Legacy VAPA High School!”