In “Little Shop of Horrors” at Briarcliff High School, junior Michelle Rubich played Audrey, a put-upon flower-shop girl whose simple dream involves a house surrounded by “real chain link.”
Last night, the actress (at right, in a photo by LoHud’s Joe Larese) achieved a dream of her own, winning the outstanding-actress-in-a-leading-role award at the 11th annual Metropolitan Awards, honoring the best in high-school musicals from participating schools in Rockland, Westchester and Bergen counties.
The winner of the evening’s top honor — outstanding overall production — was Fair Lawn High School’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” (Photo by Joe Larese.)
Taking home the Metro for outstanding actor in a leading role was Sloatsburg’s Aaron Sauer, who played Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” at Don Bosco Prep. (Photo by Joe Larese.)
Nineteen schools from Westchester, six from Rockland and 15 from Bergen took part in the competition, run by the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre. They were evaluated on a long list of criteria, and winners were named in 28 categories.
The sold-out ceremony, at Peekskill’s 1,000-seat Paramount Center for the Arts, followed Broadway’s big Tonys night Sunday.
But the Metros had no less drama or emotion: There were ties in three categories — outstanding duet, dancer and dramatic performance.
Hastings’ Zoey Hart was named outstanding actress in supporting role, playing Maureen in “Rent: School Edition”; Rye Neck’s Parker Morgan Kazanji is outstanding actor in a supporting role, as Billy Lawlor in “42nd Street.”
Spring Valley High School’s production of “Fame” — about a high school of talented performers — garnered 13 Metro nominations, including for overall production. It won for featured ensemble group (the dance majors) and for choreographer Stacey Tirro.
Briarcliff’s production of “Little Shop” won for lead actress (Rubich) and for outstanding direction by a teacher, Ian Driver, in his first year directing musicals at the school.
Among the presenters were Gerard Canonico (“Spring Awakening”) and Adam Chanler-Berat (“Next to Normal”), at right in another Joe Larese photo, who announced the final four awards, doing rock-paper-scissors to determine who would read the name of the winner.
The show’s emcees were Todd and Adam Stone, identical-twin comedians from Pelham who were on last season’s “Last Comic Standing.”
Last night’s wins by Rubich and Sauer qualify them to participate in the inaugural National High School Musical Awards at the end of the month.
For five days, they’ll live in NYU dorms with 28 winners from competitions across the country. They’ll attend master classes by Broadway professionals, meet professors and attend a Broadway show.
Then, on June 29 at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the inaugural Jimmy Awards — named for Broadway theater owner James M. Nederlander — will be handed out. The 30 participants will perform production numbers they were taught and will be seen by major talent scouts and casting directors.
Then the Jimmy will be bestowed to two of the 30 high-schoolers.
Rubich and Sauer might just be able to turn last night’s Metros into Jimmy awards.
Today, that’s still a dream.