Kelly Award nominees get shot at national recognition


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The nominees for the annual Gene Kelly Awards, honoring excellence in high school musical theater, were announced yesterday by Pittsburgh CLO and the University of Pittsburgh.

The awards will be presented May 23 at the Benedum Center, Downtown, which is always packed with the nominees, dressed as if for Oscar night and exuding enough energy to power the stage lights, and fellow students and their families.

The picks come from a panel of 32 judges, who for the past three months have attended performances at the 28 eligible Allegheny County high schools: Avonworth, Baldwin-Whitehall, Bishop Canevin, Brentwood, Central Catholic, Chartiers Valley, Deer Lakes, Hampton Township, Keystone Oaks, McKeesport, North Catholic, North Hills, Northgate, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Penn Hills, Pine-Richland, Pittsburgh Allderdice, Pittsburgh CAPA, Pittsburgh Perry, Pittsburgh Schenley, Plum, Riverview, Shady Side Academy, Springdale, Vincentian Academy, West Mifflin, Winchester Thurston and Woodland Hills.

The best actor and actress winners will represent Pittsburgh in the first ever National High School Musical Theater Awards -- the Jimmys -- in New York City on June 29.

Nederlander Presentations Inc. and Pittsburgh CLO are the founders and producers of the national awards show, with participation from 16 professional theater groups from 11 states, most of which were based on the model established by the Kelly Awards, the first such high-profile regional contest in the country.

The Jimmy Awards -- named for James M. Nederlander, legendary Broadway theater owner and producer -- will honor outstanding student achievement in vocals, dance and acting.

"This recognition of amateur talent by the professional theater industry," says Pittsburgh CLO Van Kaplan of the Kelly Awards, "has already inspired many other theaters to implement a local awards program." As to its new, national extension, "we are confident that this program will grow every year."

As part of the Gene Kelly Awards, cash scholarships will be given to seniors who have been accepted to a school for the performing or technical arts. Students were picked from among the 28 schools, which each nominated one student who has excelled within the musical theater program.

Nominees for 2009 Gene Kelly Awards

BEST MUSICAL (Budget Category I): North Catholic, "Anything Goes"; Pittsburgh CAPA, "Anna Karenina"; Pittsburgh Schenley, "Return to the Forbidden Planet."

BEST MUSICAL (Budget Category II): Avonworth, "Into the Woods"; Chartiers Valley, "The Wedding Singer"; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, "Hello, Dolly!"

BEST MUSICAL (Budget Category III): Baldwin-Whitehall, "The Wizard of Oz"; North Hills, "Oliver!"; Woodland Hills, "The Wizard of Oz."

BEST ACTOR: Troy Beaudry, North Hills, "Oliver!"; Timothy DeVita, Woodland Hills, "The Wizard of Oz"; Michael Ellwood, Pittsburgh Schenley, "Return to the Forbidden Planet"; Kian McCollum, Chartiers Valley, "The Wedding Singer"; Bobby Podolinski, Vincentian, "Children of Eden"; Shawn Russman, Baldwin-Whitehall, "The Wizard of Oz."

BEST ACTRESS: Elizabeth Bailey, Pittsburgh CAPA, "Anna Karenina"; Kirsten Hoover, North Hills, "Oliver!"; Teressa LaGamba, Pittsburgh Schenley, "Return to the Forbidden Planet"; Caitlin O'Connor, OLSH; "Hello, Dolly!"; Andrea Weinzierl, Avonworth, "Into the Woods"; Erin Zarisnak, Baldwin-Whitehall, "The Wizard of Oz."

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Luke Halferty, Central Catholic, "Kiss Me, Kate"; Teddy McKenna, Pittsburgh CAPA, "Anna Karenina"; Connor McRory, Chartiers Valley, "The Wedding Singer"; Nick Ruffing, West Mifflin, "Oklahoma!"; Francesco Salpietro, Pine-Richland, "Carousel"; Justin Spittel, Pittsburgh Allderdice, "Beauty and the Beast."

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Loni Ben-Zavi, Pittsburgh Schenley, "Return to the Forbidden Planet"; Arielle Katcher and Christine Lamendola, Pine-Richland, "Carousel"; Rachel Miller, Chartiers Valley, "The Wedding Singer"; Marie Popovich, Baldwin-Whitehall, "The Wizard of Oz"; Chelsea Stewart, Avonworth, "Into the Woods."

BEST ENSEMBLE: Baldwin-Whitehall; North Hills; Pine-Richland; Pittsburgh CAPA; Pittsburgh Schenley; Woodland Hills.

BEST ALL-STUDENT ORCHESTRA: North Hills, "Oliver!"; Pine-Richland, "Carousel"; Pittsburgh CAPA, "Anna Karenina"; Pittsburgh Schenley, "Return to the Forbidden Planet"; Plum, "42nd Street"; West Mifflin, "Oklahoma!"

BEST CREW/TECHNICAL EXECUTION: Baldwin-Whitehall; Chartiers Valley; North Hills; Penn Hills, "Oklahoma!"; West Mifflin; Woodland Hills.

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Baldwin-Whitehall; Chartiers Valley; North Hills; Pine-Richland; Pittsburgh Schenley; Woodland Hills.

BEST DIRECTION: Baldwin-Whitehall; North Hills; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Pittsburgh CAPA; Pittsburgh Schenley; Woodland Hills.

BEST SCENIC DESIGN: Baldwin-Whitehall, "The Wizard of Oz"; Chartiers Valley, "The Wedding Singer"; Hampton, "Anything Goes"; McKeesport, "Once Upon a Mattress"; West Mifflin, "Oklahoma!"; Woodland Hills, "The Wizard of Oz."

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Bishop Canevin, "Anything Goes"; Keystone Oaks, "Barnum"; North Hills, "Oliver!"; Pittsburgh CAPA, "Anna Karenina"; Winchester Thurston, "The King and I"; Woodland Hills, "The Wizard of Oz."

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN: Avonworth, "Into the Woods"; Baldwin-Whitehall, "The Wizard of Oz"; Bishop Canevin, "Anything Goes"; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, "Hello, Dolly!"; Riverview, "Jesus Christ Superstar"; Woodland Hills, "The Wizard of Oz."

Tickets: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust box office, 412-456-6666.


Sharon Eberson can be reached at seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960.


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