RED BANK – Productions of “Evita” by Middletown High School South and “The Three Musketeers” by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School took top honors at this year’s Basie Awards, the 9th annual installment of the Count Basie Theatre’s celebration and recognition of excellence and achievement in high school theater.
In total, 46 performances were attended and reviewed by the “Basies” evaluation committee, consisting of professional actors, singers, directors, choreographers, M.F.A. students and graduates.
The Basie Awards are sponsored by Barnabas Health – Monmouth Medical Center.
Both “Evita” and “The Three Musketeers” nabbed Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Production trophies for their respective categories, “Evita” for musicals and “The Three Musketeers” for drama. Combined, the productions took home 10 Basies, including: ”The Three Muskeeters’” Christopher Brodsky for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, Christopher Tuttle for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama and the trophy for Outstanding Lighting Design in a Drama.
In addition to earning hardware for overall production and direction, “Evita” also earned awards for Outstanding Choreography (Jacqui Mazza) and Outstanding Chorus in a Musical.
“In our ninth year of evaluating talent for the Basie Awards, we were pleased to see so many vibrant, creative and compelling performances across Monmouth County,” Count Basie Theatre Education director Yvonne Lamb Scudiery said. “The participants realize the true value of mounting a production: the lasting memories, the personal growth, the camaraderie and fun! In our opinion, that far surpasses the momentary thrill of winning an award.”
“As a kid who did high school theater myself, I know how important it is for someone to recognize that what you’re doing is worthwhile,” said Middletown High School South theatrical teacher Alicia Kozak, who won for Best Direction. “The Basies do that. It’s like the high school Tonys of Monmouth County. It makes kids feel great about themselves.”
In addition to awards for theatrical excellence, the Basies also bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan and Robert Rechnitz, who founded the renowned Two River Theater in Red Bank two decades ago.
“I can think of few people who have done more for the arts in Monmouth County other than Dr. and Mrs. Rechnitz,” Count Basie Theatre CEO Adam Philipson said. “In creating the Two River Theatre, we recognize that they share our vision of maintaining Red Bank’s status as New Jersey’s cultural and entertainment epicenter.”
Also recognized was Bailey Warder, winner of the theater’s first-ever Moser-Toboada Scholarship. Established by the Moser Toboada Law Firm of Shrewsbury, the $2,500 scholarship will be awarded yearly to one high school senior whose life, academic and career choice has been impacted by the arts. Warder, a student at Shore Regional High School, will attend Rutgers University next year to begin studies in biology with the goal of becoming a geneticist.
Winners of 2014 Basie Awards are:
In Dramatic Presentations
Outstanding Set Design in a Drama: Howell High School, “Tartuffe,” Tim Carpenter
Outstanding Lighting Design in a Drama: Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH), “The Three Musketeers,” Matthew Leddin
Carole Malik Award for Outstanding Costume Design in a Drama:
Howell High School, “Tartuffe,” Jacquie Revier & Mariah Hale and
Middletown High School South (MHSS), “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” Jacqui Mazza and Laura Mazza
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama: Caroline Palsi, Communications High School, “Almost, Maine”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama: Christopher Tuttle, RFH, “The Three Musketeers”
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama: Nicolette Fino, Howell High School, “Tartuffe”
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama: Christopher Brodsky, RFH, “The Three Musketeers” and Elias Kotsis, MHSS, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”
Outstanding Direction in a Drama
Suzanne Sweeney, RFH, “The Three Musketeers”
Outstanding Production – Drama: Suzanne Sweeney, RFH, “The Three Musketeers”
Outstanding Set Design in a Musical: Mater Dei Prep, “The Addams Family,” Jean Vail and Jim Vail
Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical: Shore Regional High School, “Sweet Charity,” Anthony Calicchio
Carole Malik Award for Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical:
MHSS, “Evita,” Jacqui Mazza and Laura Mazza
Outstanding Choreography: MHSS, “Evita,” Jacqui Mazza
Outstanding Musical Direction: Howell High School, “The Producers,” Regina McAllen
Outstanding All Student Orchestra: Manalapan High School, “Leader of the Pack,” Jose Maunez
Outstanding Student/Adult Orchestra: Red Bank Regional High School, “42nd Street,” Camille Thompson
Outstanding Featured Ensemble Performer in a Musical: Sean Pielli, Red Bank Catholic High School, “Grease”
Outstanding Ensemble Group in a Musical: Susan’s Friends, Matawan Regional High School, “Big, The Musical”
Outstanding Chorus in a Musical: MHSS, “Evita”
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Emily Hauge, Monmouth Regional High School, “Pippin”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Sean Molicki, Mater Dei Prep, “13”
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical: Rebecca Sosa, Mater Dei Prep, “The Addams Family” and Whitney Kelly, Ranney School, “The Threepenny Opera”
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical: Vincent DeSeno, Howell High School, “The Producers”
Outstanding Direction in a Musical: MHSS, “Evita,” Alexis Kozak
Outstanding Production ~ Musical: MHSS, “Evita,” Alexis Kozak
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