Brewster High School’s production of “Shrek the Musical” garnered 15 nominations for the 2015 Metropolitan High School Theater Awards, leading the record 46 musicals in the running for the honors, to be handed out June 1 at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains.
The fairytale musical made a fairytale entrance into the annual celebration of all things musical across the Lower Hudson Valley.
Among Brewster’s nominations — announced Monday in a live webcast on lohud.com — was outstanding overall production, the top award for musicals in Rockland, Westchester, Putnam and Bergen counties. Other schools in the running for overall production: Stepinac’s “Billy Elliot”; Briarcliff’s “Urinetown”; Pleasantville’s “Man of La Mancha”; Putnam Valley’s “Chess”; Fair Lawn’s “A Man of No Importance” and Pascack Valley’s “Anything Goes.”
It was the first year Putnam schools were eligible to participate in the Metros, and the three participating schools — Carmel, Putnam Valley and Brewster — made up for lost time: In addition to Brewster’s 15 nods, Carmel’s “Into the Woods” earned three nominations and Putnam Valley “Chess” earned nine.
To win a Metro Award — the high-school equivalent of the Tony for high schools across the Lower Hudson Valley — schools must enter the running and have judges attend their performances. The awards are produced by Nyack’s Helen Hayes Youth Theater.
Other new schools up for Metros this year are Rye Country Day School and two Ramapo High Schools, in Spring Valley and in Franklin Lakes, N.J.
Stepinac, Brewster and Pleasantville have nominees in the top three categories: overall production and leading actress and leading actor.
In Brewster, Sydney Gershon, as the bipolar Princess Fiona, and Andrew Gordon, as the ogre of the title, were nominated for actress and actor in leading roles, and for outstanding duet, for the song “I Got You Beat,” a contemporary version of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” that — in this twisted take on fairytales — devolves into flatulence.
Stepinac, which will host the Metros for the second straight year, staged the high-school premiere of Elton John’s musical about a boy who’d rather dance ballet than practice boxing in a coal-mining town in the north of England. Ossining’s Marc DeSanctis, as Billy, and Harrison’s Gianna Prignano, as dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson, are nominees. Stepinac — an all-boys Catholic school and perennial nominee that draws its actresses from across the region — is up for 14 Metro Awards.
Pleasantville, another musical powerhouse, presented a high-school rarity, “Man of La Mancha,” which apparently pleased the Metro judges, who chose director Kathleen Donovan-Warren’s program for a dozen nominations, including one for direction. Also nominated for the musical, about windmill-tilting knight errant Don Quixote, are Liana Frasca, as Aldonza, and James McCarthy, as Quixote. McCarthy won last year’s leading-actor Metro for his portrayal of French expatriate Emile de Becque in “South Pacific.”
Leading the 14 Bergen County schools participating this year is Fair Lawn High School, last year’s overall production winner, which staged “A Man of No Importance,” about a Dublin bus driver with a love of theater and Oscar Wilde.
This is the 17th time schools will be honored with the awards, which began at the long-gone Helen Hayes Theatre Company in Nyack and were initially dubbed “The Helens.”
The awards were renamed The Metropolitan High School Theater Awards after the organizers of the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, D.C., — given to professional theaters — objected to the too-similar-sounding honor. The estate of Helen Hayes — the first lady of the American stage and a 60-year Nyack resident — requested a name change.
Top photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News: The cast of “Shrek” takes a bow at Brewster High School. The production is nominated for 15 Metro Awards.
Second photo by Barry Sabino, The Photo Shoppe: Nominee Marc DeSanctis from Ossining as Billy in Stepinac’s national high-school premiere of “Billy Elliot.” Stepinac, which hosts the Metros this year, is up for 14 awards.
Third photo by George Longobardo of Photo Works: Nominee James McCarthy, left, is Don Quixote in Pleasantville High School’s production of “Man of La Mancha,” which is up for a dozen Metro Awards.