Awards to honor top high school theater performers May 14

Students at Providence Christian Academy in Clayton County are nominated for a Georgia High School Musical Theater Award for their performance of “Shrek.” COURTESY OF ARTSBRIDGE FOUNDATION
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Students at Providence Christian Academy in Clayton County are nominated for a Georgia High School Musical Theater Award for their performance of “Shrek.” COURTESY OF ARTSBRIDGE FOUNDATION

After a month of anticipation, Georgia’s high school thespians will find out who has been named the best and brightest. The 12th Annual Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards sponsored by ArtsBridge Foundation will air 8 p.m. May 14 on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s channels statewide.

Recipients of the Shuler Hensley Awards — also known as the “Shuler Awards” or “The Shulers” and named for the Atlanta-born star of the stage and screen — are recognized as the best of the state’s high school musical theater students and schools. The awards ceremony is usually a grand affair with a attendees dressed to the nines and stopping for paparazzi on the red carpet. But shelter-in-place orders have forced organizers to forgo the glitz and glamour.

But the hard work of nearly 10,000 students across the state will be recognized.

Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, this year’s Shuler Award nominees in 17 categories span 30 public and private schools from 15 counties. North Hall High School of Gainesville leads this year’s nominations with 11 for their performances of “The Wedding Singer,” with Flowery Branch High School earning nine nominations for their “Mamma Mia!” production. Denmark High School of Alpharetta and Greenbrier High School of Evans each earned eight nominations performing “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” respectively.

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Hensley, who also serves as host, spoke exclusively to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the event.

There are similar high school arts awards across the country and in 2008, ArtsBridge Foundation felt it was time Georgia had one. Hensley had won a Tony that year for his role in “Oklahoma!” and being from the Peach State made him a natural fit to be part of the event.

“No matter what I’m doing, I make sure that I’m available to host every year,” he said. “This is such a big part of the students’ year and for those who don’t go on to pursue theater, this is probably the biggest production they’ll be a part of.”

And Hensley admitted he does’t do it just for the kids.

“Every year I feel re-energized,” he said. “It helps me remember how I fell in love with the theater and helps me focus on my craft.”

Although Hensley is set to head back to New York City soon to rehearse for a revival of “The Music Man,” which will also star Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, he has no idea how or if that will come about.

“I think theater will come back slowly,” he said. “It will probably begin organically in the small theaters before people feel comfortable enough to be in the big crowds again.”

Hensley recalled being in New York when the Twin Towers were hit on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was playing Javert and we had to shut down for three days,” he said. “That first night back there may have been about 200 people in the audience. But after the performance almost everyone came backstage to thank us for giving them a few hours away from the tragedy. I think theater can do that again.”


The 2020 Shuler Award nominees were announced in April:

DIRECTION

Jan Jensen, Chattahoochee High School (Fulton Co.), “Cabaret”

Kirk Grizzle, Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Kristy Winkes, Greater Atlanta Christian School (Gwinnett Co.), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (won 2019 Shuler directing “Les Misérables”)

Stephen Hansen, Greenbrier High School (Columbia Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Jan Ewing, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

Eric Bragg, Providence Christian Academy (Gwinnett Co.), “Shrek”

MUSIC DIRECTION

Presley Dale and Jesse Hanks, Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Jennie Fabianski, Chattahoochee High School (Fulton Co.), “Cabaret”

Kirk Grizzle, Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Dr. Ashley Whelchel, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

LaMurl Morris, Prince Avenue Christian School (Oconee Co.), “Guys and Dolls”

Charley Snell, The Lovett School (Fulton Co.), “The Little Mermaid”

ORCHESTRA

Samantha Hopper, Chamblee Charter High School (DeKalb Co.), “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Lori Buonamici, Chattahoochee High School (Fulton Co.), “Cabaret”

Michael Huebner, Kennesaw Mountain High School (Cobb Co.), “Pippin”

Vicorie Brown, Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts (Clayton Co.), “Little Shop of Horrors” (2019 nominee “Hunchback of Notre Dame”)

Adam Brooks, North Atlanta High School (Hall Co.), “Footloose”

Allegra Boggess, Rabun Gap Nacoochee School (Rabun Co.), “The Robber Bridegroom” (Boggess 2019 nominee “Pirates of Penzance”)

CHOREOGRAPHY

Cindy Folger and Cori Daniels, Davidson Fine Arts School (Richmond Co.), “West Side Story”

Jessica Smith, Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Angela Thomas, Greenbrier H.S. (Columbia Co.) “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (Greenbrier was 2019 nominee “Cinderella”)

Jeremy Mezoff, Lakeside High School (DeKalb Co.), “Mary Poppins”

Catherine Peets, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

Ursula Cole, Walton High School (Cobb Co.), “Matilda”

ENSEMBLE

Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (2019 nominee “Company”)

Davidson Fine Arts School (Richmond Co.), “West Side Story”

Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

Walton High School (Cobb Co.), “Matilda”

TECHNICAL EXECUTION

Kirk Grizzle (Technical Director) and Megan Erasmus (Stage Manager), Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Austin Barge (Technical Director) and Jessica Smith (Stage Manager), Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Stephen Hansen (Tech Director) and Lorna Morehead (Stage Mgr.), Greenbrier H.S. (Columbia Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Greta Hayes and Ann Richmond (Tech Directors), Ann Richmond (Stage Manager), Lakeside H.S. (DeKalb Co.), “Mary Poppins”

Jan Ewing (Technical Director) and Elizabeth Hawn (Stage Manager), North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer” (Ewing won 2019 Shuler for technical execution of “Mamma Mia!”)

Brian Patterson (Technical Director) and Haley Zoellick (Stage Manager), The Lovett School (Fulton Co.), “The Little Mermaid”

LIGHTING DESIGN

Austin Barge and Jessica Smith, Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Kristy Winkes and J.D. Cooper, Greater Atlanta Christian School (Gwinnett Co.), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Winkes/Cooper 2019 nominees “Les Misérables”)

Lexi Dowdy, Greenbrier High School (Columbia Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (Greenbrier 2o19 nominee “Cinderella”

Simeon Jones, Milton High School (Fulton Co.), “Chicago”

Lucy Barry and Phil Vossieg, Rabun Gap Nacoochee School (Rabun Co.), “The Robber Bridegroom”

Hannah Nelson, Sonoraville High School (Gordon Co.), “All Shook Up”

SOUND

Lolwa Gad El Karim, Brookwood High School (Gwinnett Co.), “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Darlene Wright, Calhoun High School (Gordon Co.), “Pippin” (Wright 2019 nominee “Peter Pan”)

Austin Barge, Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Adam Britt, Calvin Beanblossom and Jonathan Strickland, Johns Creek High School (Fulton Co.), “Big Fish”

Liz Wilder and Maddie Painter, Milton High School (Fulton Co.), “Chicago”

Christian Deutemeyer, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer” (Deutemeyer won 2019 Shuler for sound “Peter Pan”)

SCENIC DESIGN

Sadie Pijanowski, Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Austin Barge, Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Stephen Hansen, Greenbrier High School (Columbia Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Jan Ewing, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer” (Ewing 2019 nominee “Mamma Mia”)

Paloma Robles, Rabun Gap Nacoochee School (Rabun Co.), “The Robber Bridegroom”

Scott Murdoch, Ringgold High School (Catoosa Co.), “Shrek”

COSTUMES

India Galyean, Calhoun High School (Gordon Co.), “Pippin”

Betty Walpert and Costume Design Class, Davidson Fine Arts School (Richmond Co.), “West Side Story”

Hadden Peel, Lori Van Lenten, Andrew Wicklum, and Sue Brannigan, Greenbrier H.S. (Columbia Co.) “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Kate Hartigan, Milton High School (Fulton Co.), “Chicago” (Milton H.S. 2019 nominee “Curtains”)

Donna Stembridge and SCPS Theater Production Class, Savannah Christian Preparatory School (Chatham Co.), “Suessical”

Jade Lambert-Smith, Tri-Cities High School (Fulton Co.), “Into the Woods”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS

Hope Fowler as Phoebe D’Ysquith, Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Kathryn Smith as Bonnie Parker, Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Sarah Charles Lewis as Velma Kelly, Milton High School (Fulton Co.), “Chicago”

Reagan Townley as Julia, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

Catherine Sherling as Ariel, The Lovett School (Fulton Co.), “The Little Mermaid”

Brenna McConnell as Winnie Foster, Wesleyan High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Tuck Everlasting”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR

Jesse Hanks as Montague “Monty” Navarro, Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Riley Anderson as Pippin, Calhoun High School (Gordon Co.), “Pippin”

Charlie Webb as Clyde Barrow, Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Braxton Lee as Retiree/Joe Zutty, Hillgrove High School (Cobb Co.), “Working”

Owen Connolly as Edward Bloom, Landmark Christian School (Fulton Co.), “Big Fish”

Jack Johnston as Sky Masterson, Prince Avenue Christian School (Oconee Co.), “Guys and Dolls”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Delia Phillips as Phoebe D’Ysquith, Greenbrier High School (Columbia Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Catherine Peets as Holly, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

Riley Wilson as Miss Adelaide, Prince Avenue Christian School (Oconee Co.), “Guys and Dolls”

Caroline McPherson as Ursula, The Lovett School (Fulton Co.), “The Little Mermaid”

Natalie Wolff as Ms. Honey, Walton High School (Cobb Co.), “Matilda”

Tori Hedlund as Mae Tuck, Wesleyan School (Gwinnett Co.), “Tuck Everlasting”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR

Quinn Conrath as The D’Ysquith Family, Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Matthew McCanless as Charles, Calhoun H.S. (Gordon Co.), “Pippin” (McCanless was 2019 nominee as Smee in “Peter Pan”)

Bryson Ross as Pepper, Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Finn McGinnis as Nathan Detroit, Prince Avenue Christian School (Oconee Co.), “Guys and Dolls” (Prince 2019 nominee “Big Fish”)

Aidan Deiranieh as Farquaad, Providence Christian Academy (Gwinnett Co.), “Shrek”

Adam Rogers as Angus Tuck, Wesleyan High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Tuck Everlasting”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED PERFORMER

Elizabeth Ferrer as Rosie, Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Morgan Perry as Mrs. Shingle, Greenbrier High School (Columbia Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Isaiah Valbrun as Pinnochio, Hiram High School (Paulding Co.), “Shrek”

Samantha Lane as Witch, Johns Creek High School (Fulton Co.), “Big Fish”

Johan Miller as George, North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

Trevor Hyatt ad Lord Farquaad, Ringgold High School (Catoosa Co.), “Shrek”

OVERALL PRODUCTION

Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Denmark High School (Forsyth Co.), “Bonnie and Clyde”

Flowery Branch High School (Hall Co.), “Mamma Mia!”

Greater Atlanta Christian School (Gwinnett Co.), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

Milton High School (Fulton Co.), “Chicago” (2019 nominee “Curtains”)

North Hall High School (Hall Co.), “The Wedding Singer”

SHOWSTOPPER and 11 O’CLOCK NUMBER

To be announced during the awards ceremony

A video of the announcement and the full list of winners is at: www.GPB.org/Shuler-2020.

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

In step with the Shuler Awards, the ArtsBridge Foundation also named nine students chosen to receive theater- and performing arts-related scholarships. Over $10,000 in scholarships will be divided amonth the students, with the individual scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 each. Winners were chosen from a pool of 50 applicants.

Alliance Theatre Summer Intensive Scholarship: Scott Hindy, Star’s Mill High School (Fayette Co.) and Kara Bragg, Trinity Christian School (Coweta Co.)

Broadway Dreams Foundation Summer Intensive Scholarship: Jesse Hanks, Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.) and Brianna Reaves, Ringgold High School (Catoosa Co.)

James Carlos Family Musical Theatre Performance Scholarship: Goldie Hatch, Providence Christian Academy (Gwinnett Co.)

Luke, Marshall, Wolfe Educational Legacy Scholarship: Kathleen Ryan, Starr’s Mill High School (Fayette Co.)

Smiley For Kylie Foundation Scholarship: Quinn Conrath, Buford High School (Gwinnett Co.), Reagan Townley, North Hall High School (Hall Co.) and Isabella Scarlett, Gainesville High School (Hall Co.)

For the complete list of nominations and honorable mentions go to: ArtsBridgeGA.org/2020-shuler-award-nominations.

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