Talent, hard work and tenacity were awarded and applauded at the 12th annual Henry Mancini Musical Theatre Awards May 24 at Geneva College.
The awards, named for the Aliquippa-born composer, are presented to performers in high school spring musicals in Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties.
This year's emcee was Quigley Catholic High School graduate and 1999 Henry winner Ian Rosenberger, who finished third in last year's "Survivor: Pulau" competition on CBS television.
"It's good to know that Pittsburgh is about more than just the Steelers," Mr. Rosenberger said.
Also a first-timer was Christopher Mancini, grandson of Henry, who represented the family. The younger Mancini, who was born and raised in Southern California, knew the Beaver Valley by reputation, saying that his grandfather "was proud to be from Aliquippa."
As usual, the performances by each of the eligible schools were the evening's biggest attractions.
Notable among the performances were Lincoln High School's knockout vocal on "The Gods Love Nubia" from "Aida;" the beautifully harmonious, "Why We Dance" sung by a cast of dozens from Aliquippa; a house rockin' version of "Guys and Dolls" show-stopper "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," by Center Area; and a fun, whimsical "Seussical the Musical" medley by Seneca Valley, with a special nod to Outstanding Female Lead nominee Danielle Maggio, whose performance as Gertrude McFuzz was one of the treasures of the past spring musical season.
A grand finale featuring two cast members from each school performing "Season of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent" was heartfelt, although the song seems destined to join the ranks of "Memory" from "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera" ballad "Music of the Night," as overblown and overplayed lounge lizard fodder.
The lanky, handsome Mr. Rosenberger modestly brushed aside any notion of returning home as "the conquering hero" after his recent reality show success and subsequent popularity. He kept the evening light and casual, easily identifying with the mostly high school-age audience members, who are less than a decade his junior. Etta Cox's rendition of Mr. Mancini's "Moon River" reminded us of the depth of the favorite son's talent.
As for the Henry award count: Beaver County Christian and Seneca Valley each received eight; Beaver Area got five; Riverside and Aliquippa took home four each; Beaver Falls, Lincoln and Center all walked away with three awards; and Quigley Catholic and Freedom each got one.
Multiple awards were given in each of the categories below:
Outstanding Male Lead: George Hampe, Beaver County Christian; Steve Lowry, Riverside; Nick Bell, Quigley Catholic.
Outstanding Female Lead: Sara Williams, Beaver Area; Jamie Hulick, Lincoln; Bethany Stahl, Beaver County Christian.
Outstanding Male in Supporting Role: Jon Lutz, Seneca Valley; Eric Prendergast, Beaver Area; Dan Barr, Beaver County Christian.
Outstanding Female in Supporting Role: Victoria Osman, Aliquippa; Lindsay Tejan, Beaver County Christian; Kelsey Wilson, Riverside.
Noteworthy Performance by an Individual: Zach Renner, Seneca Valley; Becca Sherman, Beaver Area; Brad Davis, Center Area; Kevin Lucas, Big Beaver Falls Area; Joshua Martin, Aliquippa; George Milosh, Center Area.
Noteworthy Performance by a Group: Courtney Herdt, Mary Ours and Amanda Yerage, Big Beaver Falls Area; Justin Hunt and Joey Squire, Beaver County Christian; Ryan Handerhan, Cy Fleming, Steve Millett and Garrett Evans, Seneca Valley; Emily Hamidi, Shannon Rimer and Kendra Stewart, Freedom Area.
Outstanding Dance Performance: "Anything Goes," Beaver Area; "Guys and Dolls," Center Area; "Seussical the Musical," Seneca Valley.
Outstanding Sets and Scenery: "Once on This Island," Aliquippa; "Little Shop of Horrors," Big Beaver Falls Area; "South Pacific," Riverside.
Outstanding Costumes: "Kiss Me Kate," Beaver County Christian; "Seussical the Musical," Seneca Valley; "Once on This Island," Aliquippa.
Outstanding Student Orchestra: "Anything Goes," Beaver Area; "South Pacific," Riverside; "Seussical the Musical," Seneca Valley.
Outstanding Vocal Ensemble: "Aida," Lincoln; "Seussical the Musical," Seneca Valley; "Kiss Me Kate," Beaver County Christian.
Outstanding Overall Production: "Kiss Me Kate," Beaver County Christian; "Aida," Lincoln; "Seussical the Musical," Seneca Valley.
A.J. Caliendo is a freelance writer.