Jul 19, 2022
Basie Awards Announced – Area Schools Named
By Les Pierce
After a two-year hiatus, the annual Basie awards ceremony has been resumed. On May 25, a capacity crowd attended the gala event at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank where the 2022 winners were revealed. Several awards went to Middletown area schools.
Middletown High School North’s production of “A Chorus Line” accounted for five Basie wins. Samuel Cusson won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical. Daniel Stefanski was recognized as the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical category in a tie with John Paul Shimkus of Christian Brothers Academy for his role in “13: the Musical.”
“These are two of the most hard-working and intelligent theater students I have ever worked with,” Middletown North Theater Director Amanda Faria said. “I was over-the-moon happy to watch them both take the win and receive their well-earned recognition.”
North’s non-acting Basie awards went to Peter Isherwood – Amy Giinther Fredericks Award for Outstanding Musical Direction, Tara Mahoney – Outstanding Choreography and Faria – Outstanding Direction in a Musical.
“I am beyond grateful to have received this award, but will always credit it to the incredible dedication and talent I see in the school building every single day,” Director Faria said. “This ambitious group of teenagers trusted my wild and crazy ideas, and I could never have done this show without their support, maturity, patience and love.”
The Basie awards show features live acts interspersed with award presentations, following the pattern of the Tony Awards program. Members of the “A Chorus Line” cast were invited to perform. The troupe presented a medley that featured leads Cusson and Ava Giglia and the finale “One,” the iconic dance number, performed by the full cast.
Mater Dei Prep claimed four Basies, one for the drama “Puffs” and three for the musical “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”
Kate Smith won for Outstanding Featured Performer in a Drama.
Basie awards attributed to Mater Dei Prep’s “Legally Blonde: The Musical” were Ken Dwyer and Jim Vail – Outstanding Set Design in a Musical, Samantha Yannarelli – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical, and Jenna Dacquel – Outstanding Featured Female Performer in a Musical.
Middletown High School South received a pair of Basies for their musical “Grease.” Mike Raguseo was awarded the Outstanding Small Music Ensemble in a tie with Christian Lopez and Nicolas Arena of Christian Brothers Academy for “13: the Musical.” South was also named winner of Outstanding Chorus.
For Monmouth County high schools, the “Basies” are the local version of Broadway’s Tony Awards. This year, 16 dramas and 23 musical performances were evaluated by the Basie Awards nomination committee.
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