Can Matilda earn Kenny Awards for SHA?

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Bridget Gedeon, Editor

     During the dates of November 15-17, SHA’s annual musical took place; this year, it was Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name.  Set in England, Matilda follows the titular youngster as she adjusts to primary school and making new friends, and deals with her cruel parents and mean school headmaster, Miss Trunchbull.  Matilda is five years old and loves to read, so much that her reading level eclipses that of most high schoolers and even some college students.  She possesses equally advanced ability in mathematics. Her benevolent schoolteacher, Miss Honey, recognizes her abilities and appeals to Miss Trunchbull to place her in higher level classes to be adequately challenged.  Although Matilda experiences difficulty dealing with Trunchbull, her courage, cleverness, and newfound special abilities could be just the thing to help Miss Honey and her schoolmates at Cruchem Hall…
     Matilda’s cast was fronted by many talented seniors from both SHA and boys from surrounding high schools.  For the first time, the musical incorporated the use of swings, with Gianna Monetti playing the title role on Friday evening (11/15) and Sunday afternoon (11/17) and Amanda Thripp on Saturday evening (11/16).  Ali Forsythe held these same roles, but the opposite nights that Monetti portrayed the other.   Sweet Home senior Jeremy Vicario embodied the cruel, yet entertaining, Trunchbull, and City Honors senior Charlie Morse earned laughs in his portrayal of Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father.  Mrs. Wormwood and her dancing partner, Rudolpho, played by the duo of Abby Feldmann and Brigid Christiano, entertained the audience with their scenes together.  Sarah Cody’s portrayal of Miss Honey kept the audience rooting for both her and Matilda.  Rounding out these excellent leads included featured roles of librarian Mrs. Phelps (Kat Krajewski), the Doctor present at Matilda’s birth (Caroline Erdman), Russian mob leader Sergei (Williamsville South freshman Jameson Zuber), Matilda’s dumb but funny brother Michael (City Honors junior Sam Farrell), and the duo of the escapologist (Sweet Home senior Hunter Steward) and the acrobat (Katie Wojtaszek).  Mr. Liberti, one of the school’s English teachers, made a well-loved cameo as the Crunchem Hall chef, who prepared the chocolate cake that Trunchbull coveted.
     Additionally, Matilda’s classmates included Bruce (Amanda Wellence), Lavender (Natalie Kershner), Amanda (Gianna Monetti/Ali Forsythe in alternating swing), Nigel (Amherst eighth grader Alex McCann), Erica (Katie Hagerty), Alice (Olivia Chiarella), Hortensia (Ana Lach), Tammy (Elsie Hilmey), and fellow children portrayed by Mandy Allen, Caitlin O’Neil, and Anneliese Przybyla.  Featured dancers and older students included Brigid Christiano, Caroline Erdman, Macayla Glenn, Lauren Richardson, Abby Smith, and Katie Wojtaszek.  Joining them in various ensemble roles as older students, parents, dance judges, or Russian henchmen in the like included Olivia Bates, Emma Flatau, Bridget Gedeon, Olivia Helwig, Krissy Klein, Morgan Shaver, Monet Thongchanh, Nina Van Volkenburg, Heidi Weinheimer, Maddy Zgoda, and Jameson Zuber.
     Furthermore, Matilda’s cast, crew members, and leading production directors Dr. Szalach, Mr. Madill, and Miss Casseri were thrilled to learn that they had been named a finalist for the Kenny Awards during mid-October.  The Kenny Awards are like a Buffalo-area equivalent of the Tony Awards for high schoolers, and celebrate excellence in high school musical theatre.  Directly from the Shea’s website, where the ceremony will be held on May 16: Finalists are eligible for the following award categories: Outstanding Musical Production, Outstanding Orchestral Performance, Outstanding Technical Design, Outstanding Choral Performance, Outstanding Scenic Design, Outstanding Dramatic Performance, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Dance Performance, The Showstopper Award, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, The Blossom Cohan Award, Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role, and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role.  Winners of the Outstanding Leading Actress and Actor awards have the opportunity to travel to New York City in June and compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards.  Winners of this type of award from other regional versions of the Kennys (names vary depending on region) around the country will also be in attendance.  Past notable finalists or winners in the Jimmy Awards include Stephanie Styles (Katherine Plumber in Newsies first national tour); Ryan McCartan (currently Hans in Frozen on Broadway); Eva Noblezada (Eurydice in Hadestown on Broadway); Andrew Barth Feldman (title role in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, youngest to do so); and Renee Rapp (currently Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway, succeeding Taylor Louderman) to name just a few.
     Currently, the cast, crew, and production members are eagerly anticipating the announcements for awards nominations picked from other local high school finalists. Fellow area nominees this year include Akron (High School Musical), Amherst (Titanic), Cardinal O’Hara (Shrek), Eden (42nd Street), Fillmore (Bye Bye Birdie), Lew-Port (Mamma Mia), Lockport (Hello, Dolly), Maple Grove (Matilda), and Niagara Wheatfield (Mary Poppins).  What will Sacred Heart’s Matilda be nominated for and how many of these will they win awards for on May 16? Only time will tell…
Check out the Shea’s website for more Kennys info!