Normally, Jeremiah Shoop, an 18-year-old Moorpark performer, gets past his stage nerves by squatting quietly and scratching at his chin until the time comes for him to slide into character and step out before the audience.
But at the Burbank Hilton last week, that method did not ease Shoop's anxiety as he waited for a guy's name to be called.
He and 15 other finalists were hoping to hear a familiar name announced as winner of the California Teen Vocal Championship, a coed competition for singers ages 13 to 19 from around the state.
The fifth-place award went to a girl. So did the fourth-, third- and second-place awards.
"Please call a guy, please call a guy," Shoop said to himself.
First place did go to a guy--and it was Shoop, who won by singing "Anthem" from the musical "Chess." He couldn't believe he had beaten out top singers from across California.
"All I was hoping for was to make it into the finals," he said.
The championship comes with a $4,000 scholarship and a trip to a nationwide competition later this year. Shoop plans to put the scholarship toward an education in theater arts and drama at Moorpark College.
The award is just the latest accomplishment for Shoop, who played the lead in many of Moorpark High School's musicals before he graduated this year.
Shoop's wide-ranging interest in music was instilled by his parents, who met when his mother, Angela, fell for the latest drummer in her father's country and western band.
"I just dated drummers," Angela Shoop said sheepishly.
But she was hardly sheepish when she called friends last week to boast about her son's award.
"His dad and I were so thrilled," she said.
As a child, Shoop would play on his father's drum set. Over the years, he taught himself to play the guitar and other instruments, though he never learned to read music.
Shoop is currently playing Che, the male lead in the Young Artists Ensemble production of "Evita," which opened Friday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and will play through Saturday. For more information, call 381-2747.