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2019 Gene Kelly Award Winners Announced

2019 Gene Kelly Award Winners Announced

A sold-out crowd gathered at the Benedum Center as Pittsburgh CLO and The Michael J. Kara Family honored Allegheny County's finest high school performers at the 29th Annual Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater on Saturday, May 25, 2019.

Named for legendary performer and Pittsburgh native Gene Kelly, the celebration emphasizes the importance of arts education and rewards the time, energy and dedication that local high schools devote to their musical productions each spring.

The ceremony included live ensemble performances by 9 Best Musical nominees, and live performances by 6 Best Actor and 6 Best Actress nominees. Ensembles performed a five-minute selection from their nominated musicals, and Best Actor and Actress nominees performed in character-driven medley groups. Special guest presenters included local television personality WPXI's David Johnson, WQED's Nancy Polinsky and Gene Kelly's widow Patricia Ward Kelly.

Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards is the nation's oldest, most comprehensive regional awards program. Patterned on the Tony Awards, it recognizes excellence in student performances and production, including Execution of Direction, Execution of Choreography, Execution of Music Direction, Best All-Student Orchestra, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Ensemble and Crew/Technical. Awards are given on three budget levels, ensuring that all schools, whether public and private and no matter their resources, are able to participate.

In 2009, Executive Producer and CEO Van Kaplan brought Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards into the national spotlight by co-founding the Jimmy Awards/National High School Musical Theatre Awards, based on its own revered program. Originally, 16 existing regional awards programs participated. Due to the growth in popularity of high school musicals, 43 programs will participate in this year's event and culminating performance on Broadway.

Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards presented $132,000 in scholarships, including the following college-bound seniors:

Point Park University presented Rhiannon Passmore and Noah Glaister with a scholarship renewable for four years, to attend Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania presented Carly Chotiner with a scholarship to attend IUP.

Seton Hill University presented Nina DiBacco, Abigail George, Corissa Saitta and Melina Walko with a scholarship, renewable for four years, to attend Seton Hill University.

Gene Kelly Cash Scholarships were awarded to three high school seniors who have applied and were accepted to a school for the performing or technical arts: Zoe Dunay, Allison Joyce and Ava Karas.

The Pittsburgh CLO Guild awarded scholarships in the name of Constance T. Rockwell to 10 students who are pursuing a college education in theater arts. These were awarded to: Jake Arvay, Charlotte Bush, Zoe Dunay, Matthew Fedorek, Ava Karas, Tate Mcelhaney, Cecilia Petrush, Ali Ragazzini, Sofia Swenson and Morgan Traud.

The Pittsburgh CLO Ambassadors awarded scholarships to two college-bound students who will be pursuing a major outside of the arts: Celaine Hornsby and MacKenzie Pifko.

Pittsburgh CLO's Board Chairman, Helen Hanna Casey, awarded a Pittsburgh CLO Family for Life scholarship to Pittsburgh CLO Academy student Zoe Dunay in recognition of her achievements as both a student at the Academy and participation in the Gene Kelly Awards.

The Charles Gray Award for Special Achievement in Arts Education was presented to Oblock Junior High School, in recognition of its arts education program. The school has made an enduring commitment to use the Arts to build community and healing, and allow students to actively participate in a legacy of leadership. The school was presented with a cash prize.

Now in its 16th year, The Kelly Critics program is a joint partnership between Pittsburgh CLO, Dr. Christopher Rawson and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dr. Rawson presented the Christopher Rawson Kelly Critics Award. Simon Sweeney from Central Catholic was presented with the award and a cash prize, and runner up Jayla Andrews from Westinghouse Arts Academy was awarded a cash prize.

Pittsburgh CLO congratulates the 2019 Gene Kelly Awards winners, nominees and the following 33 participating Allegheny County high schools: Avonworth High School, Baldwin High School, Bishop Canevin High School, Brentwood High School, Central Catholic & Oakland Catholic High Schools, Chartiers Valley High School, Deer Lakes High School, Elizabeth Forward High School, Hampton High School, Keystone Oaks High School, Montour High School, Moon Area High School, North Hills High School, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Penn Hills High School, Pine-Richland High School, Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, Pittsburgh Brashear High School, Pittsburgh CAPA High School, Plum Senior High School, Propel Braddock Hills High School, Quaker Valley High School, Redeemer Lutheran School, Riverview High School, Saint Joseph High School, Serra Catholic High School, Seton-LaSalle Catholic High School, Sewickley Academy, Springdale Jr.-Sr. High School, Steel Valley High School, West Allegheny High School, Westinghouse Arts Academy Charter School and Woodland Hills High School.

The Recipients of the 2019 Gene Kelly Awards are:

Best Scenic Design

  • Budget Level I: Deer Lakes for Mamma Mia!
  • Budget Level II: Elizabeth Forward for Mamma Mia!
  • Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for Mamma Mia!

Best Costume Design

  • Budget Level I: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for Once Upon a Mattress
  • Budget Level II: Avonworth for Disney's The Little Mermaid
  • Budget Level III: Penn Hills for The Addams Family

Best Lighting Design

  • Budget Level I: Propel Braddock Hills for Once on This Island
  • Budget Level II: Moon for Mamma Mia!
  • Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for Mamma Mia!

Best All-Student Orchestra

  • Pittsburgh CAPA for Sister Act

Best Ensemble

  • West Allegheny for The Addams Family

Best Crew/Technical Execution

  • Woodland Hills for Mamma Mia!

Best Execution of Choreography

  • Elizabeth Forward for Mamma Mia!

Best Execution of Direction

  • Elizabeth Forward for Mamma Mia!

Best Execution of Music Direction

  • Elizabeth Forward for Mamma Mia!

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Samuel Kagle of Chartiers Valley for Eddie Souther in Sister Act

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Rhiannon Passmore of Pittsburgh CAPA for Sr. Mary Lazarus in Sister Act

Best Actor

  • Tyler Hepler of Pine-Richland for Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls

Best Actress

Best Musical

  • Budget Level I: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for Once Upon a Mattress
  • Budget Level II: Elizabeth Forward for Mamma Mia!
  • Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for Mamma Mia!

The winners for Best Actor and Best Actress received a cash prize courtesy of Point Park University.They also will represent Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards in the 11th Jimmy Awards/National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City on Monday, June 24. The Jimmy Awards/National High School Musical Theater Awards impacts more than 100,000 students annually who participate in high school musical theater competitions sponsored by top professional theaters across the country. A Best Actress and Best Actor winner from each of these competitions is sent to New York for a week-long theater intensive of coaching and rehearsals with industry professionals in preparation for a one-night-only showcase at The Jimmy Awards on Broadway, where a panel of judges crowns the nation's top performers. Since its inception in 2009, the program has been the catalyst for more than $2,000,000 in educational scholarships awarded to its participants. For more information, visit www.JimmyAwards.com.



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