BEMIDJI -- Performers often aim to become a "triple threat" -- meaning they are talented in singing, dancing and acting.
Bemidji High School senior Britta Aas is more of a quintuple threat -- she plays the ukelele, sings, dances, acts and has pageant experience. She seems to have it all.
And it seems the Hennepin Theatre Trust thinks so, too. Aas was recently selected as a finalist for the organization’s Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award, showcasing her as one of the top young performers in the state.
Aas is no stranger to accolades -- she was crowned Miss Northern Lakes Outstanding Teen, Miss Granite Cities' Outstanding Teen, Bemidji High School homecoming queen, she was a finalist in local Bemidji Sings! Competition, just to name a few.
She is the first female competitor ever chosen as a Triple Threat finalist from Bemidji, and is now preparing to compete in the final rounds of Triple Threat virtually.
To be selected as a finalist, Aas made it through three rounds of judging -- in the first round, she sang two songs of her choosing and submitted videos of herself dancing and performing a monologue. In subsequent rounds, she performed more songs and dance routines, as well as an essay and interview portion.
“A couple weeks ago, I found out I was a finalist, which is insane,” she said. “I have dreamed of being a finalist since I was probably in eighth grade when I (first) knew what Spotlight was.”
Now that she is a finalist, she and 26 other younger performers are gearing up for a showcase performance, remotely.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people down in the Twin Cities over Zoom, doing dance classes and vocal classes and working with the other Triple threat Finalists,” she said. “We’re putting together a video show that’s going to be on June 9.”
While she is thrilled the competition will continue despite the coronavirus situation, it is difficult to rehearse songs and dances over video chat, she said.
“It’s just hard, because we’re not all in sync since we’re all in different places,” she said. “Vocals have been the hardest, because you have to kind of sing along but if (the video) buffers or if it cuts out it’s kind of like, ‘oh man, I just want to sing.’”
This hasn't slowed her down -- she has been filming herself constantly over the last few weeks to prepare for the showcase.
“I have sixteen videos due today by noon,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been living in all black for the last week, because I have to wear all black to film and I just film all day.”
Constantly filming videos of herself singing and dancing has brought out her perfectionist side.
“I was up pretty late last night, I think I was up until 2 in the morning, and my family probably hated me because I was singing pretty loudly,” she said. “I think I did 30 takes of this one song, it’s so hard on a camera because you can pick out every little thing you don’t like and feel like you have to redo it.”
Despite the challenges of virtual competition, Aas is grateful that the show will go on.
“I feel very blessed that they are even doing the Triple Threat competition, it keeps me busy, and it gives me passion to keep doing something that I love still, even in these really hard times,” she explained.
Aas has been singing and dancing her whole life, but didn’t get her start in theater until the eighth grade when she was cast as teen Fiona in the Bemidji High School’s production of "Shrek the Musical."
“I feel like at that time of my life I was very confused as to where I was supposed to be. All of my friends were in volleyball and I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta play volleyball,’ but I was terrible,” she said. “I don’t know why I played volleyball for that long, I definitely belonged with the music kids.”
Five years later and she has been in numerous community productions, most recently starring as "Elle Woods" in the Bemidji High School production of "Legally Blonde."
While Aas said if she could have it all, her dream would be to be on Broadway, she is realistic in accepting the grueling schedule of a professional musical theater career. She hopes to have a family and free time, she said.
Therefore, she is pursuing a degree in the fall in elementary education with a musical theater minor at Minnesota State University in Mankato, and plans to become a daycare provider.
She knows regardless of her career, theater will always be a part of her life.
“Whether that’s performing in community theaters or something bigger than that, I’m not really sure,” she said. “As much as I love musical theater, it’s crazy to have that as a whole major. The life that you live it’s really hard to have a family and I’ve wanted to have a family my whole life.”
A showcase performance including all of the Triple Threat finalists will take place virtually on June 9. Winners of the Triple Threat award, of which there are six, are flown to New York to gain real-life Broadway experience.