Nominations Announced Today for 2014 Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards

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Nominations Announced Today for 2014 Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards

Months of anticipation for hundreds of local high school students is about to reach a fever pitch. Today, March 18th at 7:00 AM, students from 19 local high schools will gather on the Long Center City Terrace, where officials will announce the nominees for the inaugural Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards. Attending students are encouraged to show up on the terrace with signs and plenty of school spirit as they cheer their respective schools on. This announcement is the kick-off to the extraordinary, Tony's-style awards ceremony one month later, on April 17th.

Since September 2013, a panel of judges has attended shows produced by each of the 19 participating schools. The judges then met as a committee to decide on nominations in over a dozen categories. More than 1,500 students were involved in the various productions. Students from each participating school are expected to attend the nominations announcement.

The Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards is the first project the Long Center, Zach Scott Theatre and The University of Texas have collaborated on together. Representatives from each organization will be present at the nominations announcement.

The April 17th awards ceremony will feature a variety of performances from the nominated casts. The jam-packed event will include a medley showcasing lead actors and actresses; musical numbers performed by lead, supporting and featured actors; a finale including a male and female from each participating school; a select ensemble chosen through auditions; and performances from each Outstanding Musical nominee throughout the event.

The event will be held in Dell Hall at the Long Center. Of the 19 schools and 1,500 students competing, over 400 of those students will perform at the ceremony. The two-hour event will acknowledge outstanding student achievements in 15 categories, ranging from set design and musical direction to acting and production. Students and schools are encouraged to work from a list of pre-approved musicals to be considered for nomination.

The schools involved include Akins High School (Austin), Anderson High School (Austin), Bastrop High School (Bastrop), Burnet High School (Burnet), Cedar Park High School (Cedar Park), Cedar Ridge High School (Round Rock), Del Valle High School (Del Valle), Dripping Springs High School (Dripping Springs), Hendrickson High School (Pflugerville), James Bowie High School (Austin), John B. Connally High School (Austin), LBJ High School (Austin), Leander High School (Leander), Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls), McCallum Fine Arts Academy (Austin), Round Rock High School (Round Rock), Rouse High School (Leander), St. Andrew's Episcopal School (Austin), Vista Ridge High School (Cedar Park), and Westlake High School (Austin).

Categories include: Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role, Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role, Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Featured Actor or Actress, Outstanding Ensemble/Chorus, Outstanding Scenic Design, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Lighting Design, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Orchestra, Outstanding Crew/Technical Execution, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Production.

Awards shows like the GAHSMTA garner awareness and support from fans and the public, as well as school administrators and supervisors. Programs like these remind communities that art is important in schools. The awards create a sense of pride among students, showing them firsthand the rewards reaped from hard work, practice and commitment. Often ceremonies like the GAHSMTA boost morale, and can have lasting effects in other areas, from self-confidence to improved attendance rates and higher grades. Additionally, in 2015, Austin will be eligible to participate in the National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA) event in New York, pushing the city once again into the national spotlight as it competes against peers from California and Maine. To receive an NHSMTA is the ultimate triumph in a student's high school career; few third-party awards honor students' time and talents for anything, let alone performances like AIDA, Urinetown and Little Shop of Horrors.

Though the NHSMTA is only in its fifth year, other schools and similar programs involved have expanded and increased the theater arts training and requirements in their schools. The presence of art in schools is slowly waning, as budget cuts often eliminate programs like musical theater first.

In 2013, the Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards was created to recognize students on a local level. Ultimately, the goal of GAHSMTA is to have students recognized at the national level starting in 2015.

The Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards are open to all public and private high schools in Travis, Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays and Williamson Counties. Only one musical and one cast per school are eligible to compete, and the performance must have taken place between Thursday, September 19, 2013 and Sunday, March 2, 2014. There is no cost to participate in the competition.

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