Shelton High drama club garners 8 Sondheim Award nominations

SHELTON — After a two-year COVID-enforced hiatus, the high school drama club put on its spring musical without missing a beat. The production level led to the club receiving a school record 8 award nominations.

The SHS Drama Club’s spring production, “Seussical: The Musical,” earned eight Stephen Sondheim nominations, including best musical, with performers also up for best actor and best actress. The eight nominations match a school best earned two years ago with the club’s production of “Chicago.”

“I am always blown away by the amount of talent my kids have,” said director Katherine Sedlock, who earned nominations for best choreography and best direction, alongside fellow directors Justin Zenchuk and Fiona Bryson.

The club’s cast and crew presented “Seussical: The Musical” on April 28 to 30 on the high school auditorium’s stage. The last time the school drama club took the stage, the performers captured the prestigious Sondheim Award for their production of “Chicago” in what was the last show before the onset of the pandemic.

“This year the cast really stepped it up and gave the show everything they could,” Sedlock said. “Something that sets us apart from other theater groups is the attention to detail (given) to each student, ensuring everyone knows how important they are to the production.”

Joe Sedlock, the club’s adviser and Katherine’s father, said this is the second time - the first coming with the production of “Chicago” prior to the pandemic - that the SHS Drama Club has garnered the most nominations among the other 28 schools in Connecticut and Rhode Island in the competition.

“This is off the charts,” Joe Sedlock said. “I never thought we could top that group of performers we had put on ‘Chicago’, but they did it. This is like the Tony Awards for high school kids. The talent we have here in theater is amazing.”

Along with best musical, best direction and best choreography, the club also received nominations for best actor (freshman Ben Souza as Horton the Elephant), best costume design (Kayla Gzyms, Megan Loiacano and Kylee Taylor), and best supporting actress (Aine Saranich as Sour Kangaroo).

Kate McPadden (Gertrude McFuzz) and Maya Giampaolo (Boy/Jojo) were both nominated for best actress.

Joe Sedlock said 33 students performed in “Seussical:The Musical,” and 28 of those performers are underclassmen. So he said to continue to expect incredible performances in the years to come.

“The talent in town is enormous,” he added.

He praised the directors and other volunteers - those assisting with lighting, costumes and production design - for the program’s success. But he said the credit goes to the performers, many of whom get their start at Shelton-based Center Stage Theatre.

“These awards are what the kids strive for, but I truly believe their greatest enjoyment comes from filling the auditorium and entertaining the community,” Joe Sedlock said.

The awards ceremony will be June 6 at Shubert Theatre in New Haven.

“I was very proud and excited when I learned we received so many nominations,” Katherine Sedlock said. “It's a very nice feeling to get acknowledgment when you put so much time into something that you love. The directing team is very happy at the moment.”