Photo courtesy Erin Kata Photography/Jester Awards 2018
Pittsburg High School Theatre came away with seven Jester Awards from Music Theatre Wichita on Sunday based on achievements for “The Little Mermaid,” the musical.
This school year, 102 judges viewed 127 performances of 41 productions, involving more than 2,800 students and 41 schools across Kansas.
“Being involved in the Jester's organization is great for our program, and to be recognized in 17 categories for one show is a huge honor,” said Director Greg Shaw. “It’s certainly humbling that they think highly of what we're doing here.”
The awards PHS earned this year are Outstanding Stage Crew, Outstanding Technical Achievement (Hazel Harper/Hair and Makeup), Outstanding Artistic Guest (Maggie Stephens and Mollie Stephens/choreography), Outstanding Direction of Show (Greg Shaw), Outstanding Lead Actress (McKenna Shaw/Ariel), a $1,250 Technical Scholarship (Hazel Harper), and a $2,500 Performer Scholarship (McKenna Shaw).
Awards were presented at the Jester Awards Ceremony — a red carpet, black tie affair — held in the Century II Convention Center in Wichita. During the ceremony, the nine high schools nominated for Outstanding Overall Production, which included PHS, each performed a medley from their shows, and the lead actor and lead actress nominees, including PHS’s Cassie Hurt-McLarty, a senior, and McKenna Shaw, a sophomore, each performed solo excerpts.
“It's always nice to get feedback, especially from people who see lots and lots of theater, that you're doing things at a high level,” Shaw said. “Our kids being featured on stage at Jester’s is a feather in their cap and something they will always remember.”
This is the third year in a row PHS has participated in the Jester Awards program and the third year in a row PHS has earned nominations.
In 2017, PHS earned 17 nominations for two shows (“Seussical” and “The Addams Family”), coming home from the awards ceremony with 11 Jester Awards. In 2016, PHS earned 18 nominations for two shows (“Shrek” and “Band Geeks”), coming home with 15 awards.
This year, rules stipulated that each school could be judged on just one production. PHS opted to have “The Little Mermaid,” performed in February at Memorial Auditorium, judged for consideration.
Other nominations PHS earned this year for “The Little Mermaid” were: Overall production, leading actress (Cassie Hurt-McLarty/Ursula), supporting actor (Matt Buck/Flounder), cameo performer (Gabe Anderson/Chef Louise), best ensemble/chorus, orchestra direction (Cooper Neil), vocal music direction (Susan Laushman), scenic design (Chuck Boyles/Greg Shaw), design guest (Todd Hoover-Holthus and Phillip Hoover-Holthus/costume design, Jason Huffman/sound design, and Kyle Newby/lighting design), and graphic design (Anita White/poster).
PHS Theatre also has enjoyed other successes this year; the fall musical, "Urinetown," was chosen for State in January, and then qualified as one of only 11 schools in the nation to be performed at the International Thespian Festival in June.
A fundraiser is underway to send students in Music Rep Theatre, Band, and Stagecraft classes, who together comprise the cast, crew, and pit band of “Urinetown,” to the festival.