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Pittsburgh CLO Announces 2017 Gene Kelly Award Winners

A sold-out crowd gathered at the Benedum Center as Pittsburgh CLO honored Allegheny County's finest high school performers at the 27th Annual Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater on Saturday, May 27, 2017.

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

Patterned after the Tony Awards, the ceremony included live performances by the Best Musical nominees and Best Actor/Actress nominees. Each nominated school performed a five-minute selection from their respective shows. Special guest presenters included local television personalities: WPXI's David Johnson and WQED's Nancy Polinsky.

Pittsburgh CLO congratulates the 2017 Gene Kelly Awards winners, nominees and the following 27 participating Allegheny County high schools: Avonworth High School, Baldwin High School, Bishop Canevin High School, Central Catholic, Chartiers Valley High School, Deer Lakes High School, Elizabeth Forward High School, Hampton High School, Keystone Oaks High School, North Hills High School, Northgate High School, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Pine-Richland High School, Pittsburgh Allderdice, Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies, Pittsburgh Brashear High School, Pittsburgh CAPA High School, Pittsburgh Perry, Plum Senior High School, Quaker Valley High School, Riverview High School, Seton-LaSalle Catholic High School, Springdale Jr-Sr High School, St. Joseph High School, West Allegheny, West Mifflin Area High School and Woodland Hills High School.

The Charles Gray Award for Special Achievement in Arts Education was presented to Pittsburgh Urban Christian School, in recognition of its arts that are infused throughout the school's curriculum. The students are exposed to the arts both inside and outside of the school environment.

This year, Pittsburgh CLO awarded $71,000 in scholarships to several college-bound seniors at the ceremony.

Alaire Naedele, representing Point Park University, presented Chloe Kehm with a $5,000 scholarship per year, renewable for four years, to attend Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts for Musical Theater.

Pittsburgh CLO awarded Gene Kelly Cash Scholarships totaling $9,500 to four high school seniors who have applied and been accepted to a school for the performing or technical arts. Pittsburgh CLO awarded $1,500 to Allison Burns, Kaylie Wallace and Chloe Kehm, and $5,000 to Jake Pedersen. These merit-based scholarships are made possible through the generous donations of Paul E. Block and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The Pittsburgh CLO Ambassadors awarded $5,000 in scholarships to two college-bound students who will be pursuing a major outside of the arts. The 2017 Ambassadors' Scholarship winners are Melissa Bronder and William Huffmyer.

The Pittsburgh CLO Guild awarded $36,000 in scholarships to nine students who are pursuing a college education in theater arts. The CLO Guild awarded $4,000 to Allison Burns, Nick Cortazzo, Chloe Kehm, Zachary McCay, Richard Magyan, Rachel Mracna, Ian Patterson, Kaylie Wallace and Alexandria Zallo

The Recipients of the 2017 Gene Kelly Awards are:

Best Scenic Design

Budget Level I: Pittsburgh Perry for You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

Budget Level II: Hampton for Big Fish

Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for Monty Python's Spamalot

Best Costume Design

Budget Level I: St. Joseph for Hello, Dolly!

Budget Level II: Hampton for Big Fish

Budget Level III: West Allegheny for Thoroughly Modern Millie

Best Lighting Design

Budget Level I: Deer Lakes for Little Shop of Horrors

Budget Level II: Hampton for Big Fish

Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for Monty Python's Spamalot

Best All-Student Orchestra

Hampton for Big Fish

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Robert Car of Woodland Hills for Sir Dennis Galahad in Monty Python's Spamalot

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Emma Sue Ewing of Pittsburgh CAPA for Erma Latour in Anything Goes

Best Ensemble

Central Catholic for In the Heights

Best Crew/Technical Execution

Hampton for Big Fish

Best Execution of Choreography

West Allegheny for Thoroughly Modern Millie

Best Execution of Direction

Baldwin for Zorro: The Musical

Best Execution of Music Direction

Baldwin for Zorro: The Musical

Best Actor

Jake Pedersen of Pine-Richland for Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Best Actress

Chloe Kehm of West Allegheny for Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie

The winners for Best Actor and Best Actress will represent Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards in the ninth-annual Jimmy Awards/National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City on Monday, June 27. The Jimmy Awards/National High School Musical Theater Awards impacts more than 50,000 students annually who participate in high school musical theater competitions sponsored by top professional theaters throughout the US. A Best Actress and Best Actor winner from each of these competitions is sent to New York for a weeklong 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 $750,000 in educational scholarships awarded to its participants. For more information, visit www.JimmyAwards.com.

Best Musical

Budget Level I: Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy for Sister Act

Budget Level II: Hampton for Big Fish

Budget Level III: Baldwin for Zorro: The Musical

Now in its 14th year, The Kelly Critics program is a unique partnership between the Pittsburgh CLO and Dr. Christopher Rawson. Dr. Rawson presented the Christopher Rawson Kelly Critics Award. Molly Henschke from Quaker Valley was presented with the award and a $500 scholarship for excellence in writing theatrical critiques.

This year, a special Judges Award, which is not presented every year, was presented. There are no points tabulated to choose a winner, but instead the judges look for something truly unique that is unable to be placed into a specific category. The Judges Award was presented to Thomas Houghton III from Pittsburgh CAPA for his musicality and electric energy while performing as a trumpeter for their production of Anything Goes. The Judges Award was also renamed the Alice T. Carter Judges Award in honor and memory of Pittsburgh theater critic and longtime Gene Kelly Awards judge Alice Carter.

Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards are presented with additional support provided by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, PNC and the CLO Ambassadors.

The Charles Gray Award is made possible by the Roy A. Hunt Foundation.

The Pittsburgh CLO would also like to thank The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for the use of the Benedum Center. The results are tabulated by Deloitte.

Photo credit: Archie Carpenter

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