Show will not­goon

Ma­jes­tic Awards sus­pended due to lack of par­tic­i­pa­tion

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By DAvID BARR stAff Writer

POTTSVILLE — There will be no Ma­jes­tic Awards fol­low­ing this year’s high school mu­si­cal sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to Lisa Gille­spie, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Ma­jes­tic The­ater, only four schools agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the show this year. The Ma­jes­tic Awards be­gan in 2006 to high­light the per­for­mances of area high school mu­si­cals and were mod­eled af­ter Broad­way’s Tony Awards. How­ever, af­ter a se­ries of com­mit­tee meet­ings and in­put from school di­rec­tors, the the­ater’s board chose to sus­pend the awards cit­ing a de­crease in par­tic­i­pa­tion. In­stead, there will be a show­case.

The show­case, sched­uled for May 21 at Pottsville Area High School, will fea­ture per­for­mances from high schools and mid­dle schools. Cur­rently, seven schools have agreed to take part.

“We have had a pos­i­tive re­sponse to the idea of a show­case. We are wait­ing to hear from the other four,” Gille­spie said in an email.

There will be an award for per­for­mance of the evening; each school will se­lect

a can­di­date for the Spirit of The­ater award and a new award has been cre­ated this year.

“This year we are adding a se­nior recog­ni­tion for the grad­u­at­ing cast and crew from each school,” Gille­spie said. “We are hop­ing to be able to ad­dress the is­sues that pre­vented a ma­jor­ity of schools from par­tic­i­pat­ing. If we are able to pro­duce a bet­ter prod­uct, we will be more than happy to re­in­state the awards. There was not enough time to re­vamp the process in the short amount of time we had this year. We will be invit­ing the di­rec­tors to a meet­ing af­ter the mu­si­cal sea­son to hear their con­cerns and sug­ges­tions, then de­ter­mine how best to pro­ceed.”

Maria Malek, di­rec­tor of dra­mat­ics at Pottsville Area High School, was aware of the de­ci­sion to sus­pend the Ma­jes­tic Awards and while she was dis­ap­pointed, she sup­ported the rea­son­ing be­hind the de­ci­sion.

“The fu­ture of mu­si­cals in the county is not con­tin­gent upon whether or not there is an awards show,” Malek said in an email. “While in the past few years area schools have worked hard to evolve and in­no­vate their pro­grams, mu­si­cal the­ater has been alive and thriv­ing in our county long be­fore the Ma­jes­tic Awards ex­isted, and even if the awards would not be re­in­stated, our pro­grams will re­main. We, the di­rec­tors and our ac­tors, will con­tinue to sup­port each other and con­tinue to im­prove our in­di­vid­ual pro­grams, be­cause that is where our pas­sions lie. We pro­duce mu­si­cal the­ater be­cause we and our stu­dents have pas­sion for it.”

Shenan­doah Val­ley High School earned seven Ma­jes­tic Awards last spring for the cast and crew’s per­for­mance of “The Phan­tom of the Opera,” di­rected by Sarah El­iz­a­beth Yorke.

“As the for­mer di­rec­tor of the Shenan­doah Val­ley Drama Club, I’m pretty bummed that there won’t be an awards cer­e­mony this year, but I was very happy to hear that there will still be a show­case of all of the lo­cal tal­ent,” Yorke said in a Face­book mes­sage. “Com­ing from a school that clawed its way up in the lo­cal the­ater scene, I’ve seen it all and never would’ve ex­pected to see the growth I’ve wit­nessed. I truly think in­still­ing a healthy sense of com­pe­ti­tion and cel­e­brat­ing these kids and their ac­com­plish­ments at the end of each year en­cour­aged that growth. Whether it be a show­case or an awards cer­e­mony, what’s im­por­tant is that we unite as one, in­stead of sep­a­rate en­ti­ties, and con­tinue to lift one an­other up. Our kids just wanted to show each school how much they sup­port them and have their backs, and over the past few years, that’s been ev­i­dent through the ca­ma­raderie the awards have cre­ated be­tween all of the drama clubs. Win or lose, these kids still sup­port each other and I think that’s the big take­away here. As long as we have a room full of kids sup­port­ing each other, we’re do­ing the right thing. I ab­so­lutely think this can be achieved with a show­case, and I’m glad they’re tak­ing the time away to reeval­u­ate the awards cri­te­ria while still cel­e­brat­ing our lo­cal tal­ent. How­ever, I wouldn’t rule out the awards pro­mot­ing this type of pos­i­tiv­ity in the fu­ture. With the right mind set and ap­proach, and a com­plete re­vamp­ing of the old ways, I think the fu­ture of healthy com­pe­ti­tion and an awards cer­e­mony can con­tinue to en­cour­age young artists to join drama clubs all over the county and con­tinue to do the un­think­able. Whether they leave with a tro­phy or not, all of these kids are win­ners be­cause of the brav­ery, guts, heart and pas­sion that they dis­play year af­ter year, and to me, that’s the most im­por­tant win of all.”

DAvid McK­e­oWN / stAff PHo­tog­rA­PHer

Shenan­doah Val­ley’s cast of “The Phan­tom of the Opera” per­forms “Mas­quer­ade” dur­ing the Ma­jes­tic Awards on May 22, 2017, at Pottsville Area High School. The awards show will not be held this year.

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