2015 Blumey Award Winners Announced

2015 Blumey Award Winners Announced

The fourth annual Blumenthal Performing Arts High School Musical Theater Awards culminated Sunday, May 17, at a gala award celebration where winners in 12 categories were announced and nominees for Best Actor, Best Actress and Wells Fargo Best Musical performed live on stage at the Belk Theater. The Blumey Awards were presented by Wells Fargo.

Kings Mountain High School from Cleveland County won the Tier 1 Wells Fargo Best Musical Award for their production of Little Shop of Horrors. Ardrey Kell High School from Mecklenburg County won the Tier 2 Wells Fargo Best Musical Award for their production of 42nd Street. Lauren Hunkele of Northwest Cabarrus High School won Best Actress for her portrayal of "Jo March" in Little Women. Justin Norwood of South Pointe High School won Best Actor for his portrayal of "Radames" in Aida. Maureen O'Boyle, anchor for WBTV, emceed the black-tie celebration.

Hunkele and Norwood, the students named Best Actress and Best Actor at The Blumey Awards, will receive an all-expenses-paid trip and weeklong stay in New York City where they will train and compete with other regional winners in the National High School Musical Theater Awards. The national show and ceremony, known as The Jimmy Awards (named after famed Broadway producer, James M. Nederlander), takes place in New York on June 29, 2015.

Twenty-one different high schools within the Charlotte region were nominated for Blumey Awards in at least one of the 12 categories, and another six counties had students recognized in the Top 20 in the Best Actor or Best Actress category. Counties represented included Cabarrus, Cleveland Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York.

Twelve student critics also participated in the Student Critic Program in association with the 4th Annual Blumey Awards presented by Wells Fargo. The Student Critic Program is a part of The Blumey Awards with support from The Charlotte Observer. Of these twelve Student Critics, Helen Coats from Northwestern High School was awarded "The Charlotte Observer Student Critic Award" at The Blumey Awards, chosen by the editors at The Charlotte Observer.

"Congratulations to everyone from the 39 schools who participated in the 4th Annual Blumey Awards Ceremony," said Tom Gabbard, Blumenthal President and CEO. "I'm so proud of the incredible talent we saw on our stage tonight, and for the hard work at each of those schools who produced a musical at their school. The opportunity for these students to perform to a sold out house at Belk Theater, just as our Broadway touring shows do, is an exhilarating experience and we're honored to be a part of it."

Among the award presenters and special guests were Reginald Bean (Coca-Cola Bottling Company), Amy Blumenthal, Jonzi D. (Artistic Director of Breakin' Convention), Tom Gabbard (President and CEO of Blumenthal Performing Arts), Barbara Meeks (Wells Fargo), Christine Nelson (WBTV), and Rick Thames (Charlotte Observer).

This year's winners for The Blumey Awards included:

Wells Fargo Best Musical - Tier 1 (Musical production budget of under $10,000)

Kings Mountain High School - Little Shop of Horrors

Wells Fargo Best Musical - Tier 2 (Musical production budget of $10,000 and greater)

Ardrey Kell High School - 42nd Street

Best Actor

South Pointe High School - Justin Norwood as Radames (Aida)

Best Actress

Northwest Cabarrus High School - Lauren Hunkele as Jo March (Little Women)

Best Supporting Actor

Northwest School of the Arts - Noah Rosario as Slightly (Peter Pan)

Best Supporting Actress

Southlake Christian Academy - Haley Conway as Ado Annie (Oklahoma!)

Best Featured Performer

Kings Mountain High School - Austin Willis as Orin (Little Shop of Horrors)

Best Overall Direction

Ardrey Kell High School - 42nd Street

Best Ensemble/Chorus

Ardrey Kell High School - 42nd Street

Best Choreography Execution

Northwest School of the Arts - Peter Pan

Best Student Orchestra

Ardrey Kell High School - 42nd Street

Best Costume Creation

Northwest School of the Arts - Peter Pan

Best Set Construction

Ardrey Kell High School - 42nd Street

Along with The Blumey Awards themselves, The Doctor Family Foundation awarded a $10,000 annually renewable scholarship to two area students. This year, The Mary Doctor Performing Arts Scholarship was awarded to Javontre Booker, Northwest School of the Arts, and Erynn Vickery, Forestview High School. A special scholarship committee chose these winners. The scholarship recipients were awarded the scholarships live on May 17 during The Blumey Awards Ceremony.

Blumenthal recently announced The Gordon Hay Scholarship, an endowed scholarship for a Charlotte-area high school senior planning to pursue a non-performing career in the performing arts field. Each year the Gordon Hay Scholarship Committee will select one exceptional high school senior to receive a one-time award in the amount of $5,000. This year, the scholarship was awarded to Aslan Freidline of Davidson Day School.

The gala celebration was the highlight of the competition, which started in January when local schools began presenting their annual musical theater productions. Each school's musical was viewed and evaluated by a panel of three judges, who awarded points according to detailed guidelines.

The Blumey Awards is produced by Blumenthal Performing Arts' Education Department and is presented by Wells Fargo. American Airlines, The Doctor Family Foundation and The Leon Levine Foundation provide additional support. Charlotte joins more than 40 other cities, including Pittsburgh, Houston and Atlanta, in hosting annual high school musical theater awards programs.

"Wells Fargo has been the presenting sponsor of the Blumey Awards four years in a row," said Jay Everette, Community Affairs Manager for Wells Fargo. "We are always excited to see which outstanding young adults are selected to move on to the Jimmy Awards experience in New York City and we are particularly proud of this year's deserving winners."

Like the Tony Awards, The Blumey Awards Ceremony featured live performances by the six finalists for Wells Fargo Best Musical: Ardrey Kell High School, 42nd Street; Charlotte Latin School, The Secret Garden; Kings Mountain High School, Little Shop of Horrors; Lake Norman High School, The Drowsy Chaperone; North Lincoln High School, Into the Woods; Northwest School of the Arts, Peter Pan.

David Dabbon, a New York-based music director, conductor, orchestrator and composer arranged all of the music, led an orchestra of local professional musicians that accompanied the competing schools, and wrote the closing number. He has conducted shows and concerts throughout the country.

The Blumey Awards Ceremony also featured a medley of performances by the six finalists for Best Actor and Best Actress. Additionally, two students from each participating school's productions were featured in opening and closing musical numbers choreographed by Linda Booth, a professional choreographer. Booth holds a BFA in dance performance from UNC-Greensboro and has choreographed over 100 productions in regional and educational theatre. Recent credits include Hairspray, Chicago, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Drowsy Chaperone and Charlotte Squawks.

The 39 schools that competed in the Blumey Awards program were: A.L. Brown High School, Ardrey Kell High School, Butler High School, Cannon School, Carmel Christian School, Central Academy of Technology and Arts, Central Cabarrus High School, cfa Academy, Charlotte Christian School, Charlotte Country Day School, Charlotte Latin School, Covenant Day School, Cuthbertson High School, Davidson Day School, East Gaston High School, Hickory Ridge High School, Highland School of Technology, Hough High School, Independence High School, Jay M. Robinson High School, Kings Mountain High School, Lake Norman High School, Lincolnton High School, Marvin Ridge High School, Mountain Island Charter School, Nation Ford High School, North Lincoln High School, Northwest Cabarrus High School, Northwest School of the Arts, Northwestern High School, Parkwood High School, Providence Day School, Providence High School, South Mecklenburg High School, South Pointe High School, Southlake Christian Academy, Stuart W. Cramer High School, Sun Valley High School, Weddington High School.

For more information: BlumenthalArts.org/BlumeyAwards.

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