Josh Hungerbeeler was bitten by a bug passed down from his older sister Nicole. But he will always be grateful to her for it.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com

Josh Hungerbeeler was bitten by a bug passed down from his older sister Nicole. But he will always be grateful to her for it.
When Nicole was in high school, she was very active in theater and choir and little brother Josh decided to follow in her footsteps when he started high school.
He attended many shows as a child but didn’t take much interest in them until he became active in choir and theater his freshman year.
Now, as a singer, dancer and actor at Leavenworth High School, he is savoring his last year there and has chosen a college to continue in performing arts.
As a choir officer, Josh, along with the other officers, help manage and run all three elite choirs at the high school by selecting music, leading class at times and creating the yearly schedule.

“As a dance captain for our show choir I, along with my fellow co-dance captain Madison Davis, create and teach choreography and music to our choir,” says Josh. “I also select what songs we will be performing throughout the year at our various events and competitions. Our concert women’s choir and a cappella choir are standing choirs and tend to sing more classical pieces while our show choir sings and dances to songs that include pop, musical theatre, and hip styles.”
Although it’s tough for Josh to pick a favorite among his many performing arts passions, he says he would have to choose singing because he loves being able to express his passion through song.

Josh was recently afforded the opportunity to perform in the Kansas All-State Show “Bring It On the Musical,” a show sponsored by Kansas Thespians, which Josh says brought together some of the most talented kids from all over the state to perform together. 

“I auditioned back in May 2018 and was cast in the ensemble as a part of the Truman and Jackson squads,” says Josh. “It was a great honor getting to be one of three students to represent Leavenworth High School in the show.”
He credits the theater program Stella Productions at the high school for helping him hone his craft and giving him many unique opportunities throughout his high school years. The program has been described by students as not just a drama club, but a family that supports each other through thick and thin.

“The theater program or ‘Stella’ as we call it is unlike many other theater troupes in Kansas in all the best ways,” says Josh. “I first became involved in the program my freshman year and since then have participated in eight shows. In addition to performing, our program also has many community outreach activities and advocates for arts education on the state and national level. I have gotten to meet and perform with so many wonderful and talented individuals and made many lasting friends through this program.”

His activities outside of theater and choir are many.
He is in the senior class cabinet and helps plan and organize graduation, fundraisers and community events involving the school and the senior class. He is also in the school’s forensics club and competes in tournaments around the Kansas City and local areas in acting, debate, poetry, speech and more.
Since he had completed most of the school’s required credits, Josh has been able to take four fine arts classes during his senior year. This has been his favorite part of his farewell year at the school.

“I will definitely be sad when I graduate. I have made so many friends and will be sad to not be able to see them everyday,” says Josh.
But he is also excited about beginning his first year in college. After 22 callbacks from colleges in the Midwest, New York and California, he has decided he will attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. The school is the alma mater of famous actors and actresses, singers and songwriters over the years, including Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Gretchen Mol, Paul Sorvino and Janelle Monae.
Josh’s favorite performances have been the two times that he took the stage at the Kansas Thespian Conference.

“The first time was my sophomore year when my school brought our musical ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ to the conference and the second was with the Kansas All-State Show,” he said. “The bonding moments that happen when you perform in front of almost 2,000 of your fellow thespians is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
As a seasoned high school performer, Josh would advise other teens who are eyeing a future star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to “practice hard, keep an open mind because you may discover a hidden talent that you didn’t know you possessed, and to never give up on your dreams because the only limit to your dreams is your imagination.”

His goal is to become a professional performer on Broadway some day. And in college he is most looking forward to being able to work with many industry professionals who can help show him the way forward and become fully acclimated with a new approach to learning about performing.
“My family has been very supportive of me and my dreams,” says Josh. “Even when I sometimes doubted myself, my family and friends were always there with their love and admiration and fully support what I want to do.”