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Local students learn from Broadway stars

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-11 19:13:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- When traveling Broadway shows like "Once" come to town, it's a chance for fans to see top talent in Utah, but, for this stop, some of the Tony Award winning talent became the audience for some Utah teens.

Several Utah high school students got the chance of a lifetime this week, as they performed their own original songs for stars of the Broadway show “Once”, who gave them critiques.

The prospect of star-powered critiques may intimidate some, but Mikah Olsen, a junior at Hillcrest High School, said having her original work "slammed" isn't a concern.

“No, if they do then I’m glad because I like a little bit of hard to me," she said.

Sarah White, another junior from Hillcrest, said she was thrilled about the opportunity.

“I’ve been writing songs for a long while, and when my teacher told us that they wanted us to bring a song, to be critiqued and stuff, I was super excited,” she said.

John Gardner, a cast member in “Once”, said when it comes to being a successful songwriter, there is one trait that trumps all.

“It’s a pretty short answer for me, but it’s a huge answer as well,” he said. “I think ultimately, honesty is the biggest, the biggest thing.”

That honesty from the students is having an impact on the Broadway stars.

“We aim to kind of inspire them and help them with advice, but also they give us a lot of gifts that I don't think they know about, either,” Gardner said.

Students came prepared with their own songs, and some brought some unique instruments along with songs

“Well I had had it before, because my brother had bought me a ukulele for my birthday, so I was just writing it on there, so I decided to bring it,” Olsen said.

White said she’s been working on her song for months.

“The one that I’m particularly bringing, I worked on for about three months,” she said. "Some of my songs take a couple days, some a couple weeks, this one took a little longer though.”

It takes a lot of talent to impress those who write and perform songs for a living, but Gardner said impressed is what they were.

“There have been a few master classes we've done where we've been totally blown away by these kids and how articulate they are and how smart they are, and how passionate they are,” he said.

Utah’s run of “Once” ends Sunday. For details and ticketing information, click here.