High School Musical Theatre Honored At The 2017 Henry Mancini Awards

Awards season is in full swing! With the excitement of the just-premiered  Tony Awards there are also many awards of recognition for achievement in high school theatre. I had the honor of attending The Henry Mancini Musical Theatre Awards on  May 20th! The Henry Mancini Musical Theatre Awards celebrated its 23rd anniversary and were hosted for the fourth year in a row at the beautiful Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center!  The Henry Mancini Musical Theatre Awards recognize outstanding performance in high school musical theatre in the Beaver County area. With approximately 33 schools participating and local working professionals as their judges, the nominees were honored to be a part of The Henry Mancini Awards.


From Best Student Orchestrations to Best Actor and Actress, The Henry Mancini Awards was a highly anticipated night! The opening musical number was spectacular as the 10 hosts from Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School took the stage and each of the Best Supporting Actresses, Actors, Best Actresses and Actors gradually took the stage with them. Each nominated show also performed a musical number. The entire night lead up to the final performances of all the nominees for lead actress and actor. They were featured in a unique medley, showcasing all their roles in each of the musicals they performed in. It was wonderful to see each taking their turn as the lead, and then the ensemble, as they supported and cheered each other on. The best actor and best actress would be heading to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, otherwise known as the Jimmy Awards. The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA) is a national celebration of outstanding student achievement in high school musical theatre that recognizes individual artistry in vocal, dance, and acting performance, and honors teachers and their schools’ commitment to performing arts education. NHSMTA focuses much-needed attention on the meaningful work being done by dedicated teachers and students with wide ranging talents on and off the stage, engages families in the activities of their children, ignites new partnerships between theatres and the schools in their area, and contributes to the development of future audiences for live performing arts in communities across America.


Kiesha Lalama, Education Director of the Pittsburgh CLO and choreographer of the Jimmy Awards, presented the award for Best Actor to Jacob (Beaver Falls High School) and Best Actress to Addison (Knoch High School). Jacob was recognized for his outstanding interpretation of The Baker in Into The Woods. After being nominated twice he was thrilled to finally win and was elated to go on The National High School Musical Theatre Awards.  Addison handled herself with grace as she accepted her award. Recognized for her dazzling performance as Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. “I can say from the bottom of my heart I was not expecting this at all,” Addison stated, “So everything that I did, I did it like it was my last time. I did it with a smile on my face, and loving people around me.”


The Keynote speaker for the night was none other than five-time Tony nominee and two-time Tony winner,  Michael Cerveris.  He won his first Tony in 2004 for his portrayal of John Wilkes Booth in Assassins and his second in 2015 for his role as Bruce Bechdel in Fun Home. He was also the host of the 2016 Jimmy Awards.  “I think the theme here tonight is ‘Who wins, who loses, and who tells your story?’ The quick answer is everyone, no one, and you.” Cerveris said in his Keynote speech, discussing exactly what his thoughts of the night were.  The audience was thoroughly entertained and inspired by his words.


Later in his speech he pointed out, “I think it’s important to challenge yourself, push yourself and to find out that you are capable of things that you don’t necessarily know you’re capable of until you refuse to let yourself rest and keep trying to expand your own boundaries. But the thing is, it’s not about the prize at the end that you actually get out of that. It’s all of the experience along the way and all the things you learn about yourself and other people because you pushed yourself that far.”


As the night came to an end, all the performers said their goodbyes and congratulated one another. Many were upset the night was over– not because they hadn’t won but because of how close everyone had bonded. “Everyone was like family. After the second day we started a group chat for all of us,” finale performer Ian Skal replied when asked about the performance.  



Congratulations to all the high schools that participated and break a leg, Jacob and Addison, at The National High School Musical Theatre Awards!

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