Oklahoma! Wins Big at Jerrys

Rachel Young, Editor

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The Greendale Theatre Department received great news last week, finding out they were awarded Outstanding Musical, as well as a handful of other honors, by the Jerry Awards, Wisconsin’s Awards for High School Musical Theatre.

Formerly known as the Tommy Awards, the Jerry Awards, named after W. Jerome Frautschi, a philanthropist and arts supporter who donated the necessary funds to build the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison where the awards are given out, have been around since 2009.  

The Jerry Award Reviewers then nominate actors, designers, and entire shows for a variety of awards and several nominees are named winners each year.  The winners travel to Madison to receive their award and perform with other winners.

Actors who are named winners in the category Outstanding Lead Performance have the opportunity to audition to represent the Jerry Awards at the Jimmy Awards, the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City where they have the chance to see Broadway productions, experience master classes, private coaching sessions, and interviews with Broadway actors and actresses, and rehearse together before they take the stage and perform before the Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress are presented.

This year, the cast of Oklahoma! was nominated for a total of 26 awards and won 14.  As a whole, Oklahoma! was named Outstanding Musical, meaning the entire production team, including directors, choreographers, designers, and stage managers, was named Outstanding.  

Junior John Poppe and sophomore Mason Hanizeski were both awarded Outstanding Lead Performance for their roles as Will Parker and Curly.  Juniors Ahmely Bonne-Année and Josh Verish were named Outstanding Supporting Performance winners for their roles as Aunt Eller and Ali Hakim.  

For Bonne-Année, the award means a lot.

“I think because I doubted myself a lot during this process, the award really means a lot to me. Since this was my first big performance it was easy for me to be doubtful. It is kind of a symbol of all of my hard work and it means the world,” she said.

Actors are trained to recognize what they do well and what they can improve upon, so all the winners recognize some of the things that may have contributed to their win.

“I think the connection that Aunt Eller had with Laurey is what made the performances special. I feel like what Julia and I did on stage really drew the audience into the era and feeling behind our performances,” Bonne-Année said.

Finally, junior Megan Lawson received the Spirit Award.

“I was given the award by the seniors because they were the ones who voted on it. It means so much to me that people see my love for and dedication to theatre,” she said.  “I try my best to make it feel like a family for everyone in it- cast, crew, or pit. I think that my enthusiasm for theatre was really recognized with this award.”

As can be expected, the entire theatre department is thrilled about the success of Oklahoma!.

“This is the most nominations and awards GHS Theatre has been received.  We did receive quite a few nominations for Spamalot.  While we did win quite a few of those awards, this the first time we have won Outstanding Musical,” Director Eric Christiansen said.  “We are very pleased that our production of Oklahoma! has been honored with the award for Outstanding Musical.  We are also especially happy that our student actors Mason Hanizeski, John Poppe, Ahmely Bonne-Année and Josh Verish have received awards for OUTSTANDING LEADING  and SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE. And, we congratulate Megan Lawson for the SPIRIT AWARD for our production.”

Because they were named Outstanding Musical, the entire cast of Oklahoma! Will travel to the Overture Center on June 9 and perform a number from the show during the award show.  Poppe, Hanizeski, Bonne-Année, and Verish will also perform in a medley with the other young actors who won awards for Outstanding Lead Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance respectively.

“I’m really looking forward to performing one more time with the people I hold so close to my heart,” Lawson said.

The whole ensemble is thrilled about their success and can’t wait to showcase their performance in front of other students who share their same love for theatre.

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