Despite being nominated in 12 categories at the Connecticut High School Musical Theatre (CHSMT) awards for their Spring Musical “Bring it On,” Shelton High School’s Drama Club said its main priority wasn’t to win awards.
“Our main goal is to enhance the love of theatre, promote theatre education in the state of Connecticut and it’s also a very nice opportunity to show what we do,” said the club’s advisor Joseph Sedlock.
The award ceremony took place on June 5 at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, and although the club only won one of the 12 awards it was nominated for, Sedlock said the club still feels like winners.
“It was a great time, all our kids that performed did an amazing job,” said Sedlock. “Standing ovations for all of them by other schools.”
Shelton High student and drama club member Robert Collazo won for Best Supporting Actor in the school’s first entry to the competition.
The Connecticut High School Musical Theatre Awards are for drama students in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island. The 17 schools that applied, including SHS, all underwent evaluations and received feedback from “skilled judges” on how they could improve their programs.
The 14 categories each team competed for included: Outstanding Achievement in Choreography, Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Student Orchestra, Outstanding Achievement in Chorus, Outstanding Achievement in Lobby Design, Outstanding Leading Actress, Outstanding Leading Actor, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Outstanding Supporting Actor, Outstanding Featured Performer, Outstanding Ensemble Group, and Outstanding Production of the Year.
“The important part is that these kids are being recognized and acknowledged for their hard work and accomplishments,” said Sedlock before the club made its way to the CHSMT awards. “It’s a wonderful thing for Shelton High School and a wonderful thing for the kids. We’re just having a lot of fun with this.”
Drama Club, drama family
As the Drama Club prepared to perform its spring musical “Bring it On,” its directors sought out to find cheerleaders willing to participate.
Little did the club know, its family would get a little larger when it found who it was looking for.
Laurie Ann Dewitt and Riley Kelly are two Shelton High seniors, who prior to Bring it On, had never performed in any theater.
Fast forward to the club concluding its final performance of “Bring it On,” on April 29, both Dewitt and Kelly said they wish they would’ve had more time to participate in more of the school’s performances.
Sedlock recalls attending one of the cheerleading practices and asking who would be interested joining the cast.
“Out of 26 girls on the team, 16 of us did the show,” said SHS cheerleader and newly proclaimed “theater geek” Kelly. “We didn’t really have lines, we mainly did stunts and tumbling but with everyone in the audience it was much different for us. We weren’t used to the lights shining on us so it was a lot of fun.”
Kelly said if she wasn’t graduating at the end of the year she would continue her high school theater career and also that some of her younger cheerleading teammates are planning to take part in the spring musical next year.
“When I first got here they made me feel like I was one of them and now I am one of them,” said Kelly.
Lead roles give one last performance
Club members Michael Martinez and Nicole Guittard were selected by directors Fiona Bryson, Katherine Sedlock and Justin Zenchuk to perform with an array of students from the 17 other schools participating in the awards ceremony.
“Being chosen by the directors is such an honor and being paired up with someone like Nicole who has been doing this for years is a big deal for me and helped me see that the directors really believe in me. I’m very excited and looking forward to it,” said Martinez.
“I’m really excited to be a part of it and perform with these other great students as well,” said Guittard.
The group of students were forced to learn their dance routines and harmonies within a four-and-a-half hour window before their performance at the awards.
Martinez said the small time frame made learning much more difficult.
“The toughest part of this is that we’re learning all of this in less than five hours when for normal performances for one song it could take us two to three rehearsals to get it all down,” said Martinez.
The script and life intertwine
Prior to the winners of the awards being announced, Sedlock emphasized how proud he was of his students’ hard work and that their purpose of entering the competition wasn’t to win the awards.
Some club members tied Sedlock’s important message in with a similar message embedded in the script of the musical.
“That was also a big message that was in Bring it On,” said senior club member Melanie Byron. “It’s not all about winning. There’s a line in the performance that says ‘Winning is everything, but the difference is how you and me define it.’”
Byron said the message of the play ties into the club’s mindset going into the awards ceremony because although they would’ve liked to have won all 12 of the awards they were grateful for the experience and the friendships they built along the way.
Bittersweet ending for seniors
Some of the senior club members said they’re sad for “Bring it On” to be the last show they’ll ever perform as Gaels, but are extremely proud of their achievements.
“Starting from my freshman year there’s been four shows throughout the year, so I would never not be in a show or preparing for one because as one would end, auditions for the next one would follow like three weeks behind,” said Byron. “It’s sad to see this end, but I’m considering pursuing theatre in college.”