Basie Awards honor high school theater productions

Winners have been announced honoring excellence in achievement in high school theater.

The 13th annual Basie Awards, held on May 23 at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, drew a sold out crowd to the theater.

The Basie Awards began in 2005 as a way to honor and recognize high school actors, actresses and productions in Monmouth County. This year, a record 22 dramas and 29 musical performances were evaluated by the Basie Awards nomination committee, according to a press release.

“This was such a fabulous, sold-out night,” said Yvonne Lamb Scudiery, vice president of education at the Count Basie Center for the Arts. “The audience of students and their enthusiastic supporters, cheering one another’s success, it’s so much more than a competition. The Basie Awards have raised the level of excellence and professionalism in Monmouth County high school theater programs, and have created a community that relishes the celebration of the arts.”

In addition to recognizing the county’s top high school talent, a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Middletown resident Tom Bernard, co-founder and co-president of Sony Pictures Classics. Bernard is a longtime Count Basie Theatre board member, according to the press release.

“I am honored to be recognized with the Basie’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” Bernard said. “I am continuously inspired by the art and performances found in high schools across New Jersey. There is a lot of talent within our state and I am honored to be a part of a program that helps discover and encourage aspiring artists.”

Recipients of the Count Basie Center for the Arts’ Arts Impacts Scholarship awards were recognized onstage.

Erica Wu of Holmdel High School received the Steven and Jaime Schultz Arts Impact Scholarship; Shelby Pickelny of Ocean Township High School was awarded the Moser-Taboada Arts Impact Scholarship; Abigail Karl of Communications High School took home the RWJBarnabas Health Arts Impact Scholarship; and Isabella Mingino of Middletown High School South  received the Monmouth County Freeholders Basie Scholarship for Continuing Education.

The Basie’s Arts Impact scholarship program recognizes high school seniors whose life, academic and career choice has been impacted by the arts.

Winners of the 2018 Basie Awards are as follows:

• Outstanding Production – Drama, Linda Walling, Matawan Regional High School, “Noises Off”

• Outstanding Direction – Drama, Alana Herron, Red Bank Catholic High School, “Moon Over Buffalo”

• Outstanding Lead Actor – Drama, Sean Gassaway, Howell High School, “Twentieth Century”

• Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama, Jacqueline Hennessy, Red Bank Catholic High School, “Moon Over Buffalo”

• Outstanding Supporting Actor – Drama, Carmine Mastrokostas, Ranney School, “The Killing Game”

• Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama, Camille Pugliese, Middletown High School South, “Pygmalion”

• Carole Malik Award for Outstanding Costume Design – Drama, Freehold Township High School, “Boeing Boeing,” Kim Richardson & Laura Cugini

• Outstanding Set Design – Drama, Carla Valentino, Red Bank Catholic High School, “Moon Over Buffalo” and Howell High School, Stephen Kazakoff, “Twentieth Century”

• Outstanding Lighting Design – Drama, Dave Ahlers, Monmouth Regional High School,  “Ghosts”

• Outstanding Production – Musical, Mater Dei Prep, “Les Misérables”

• Outstanding Direction – Musical, Mater Dei Prep, “Les Misérables”

• Outstanding Lead Actor – Musical, Michael Guarino, Christian Brothers Academy, “Fiddler on the Roof”

• Outstanding Lead Actress – Musical, Julia Forsyth, Henry Hudson Regional High School, “Little Women” and Sarah Coleman, Red Bank Catholic High School, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

• Outstanding Supporting Actor – Musical, Ethan Black, Ocean Township High School, “Bye Bye Birdie”

• Outstanding Supporting Actress – Musical, Isabella Antoon, Shore Regional High School, “The Wedding Singer”

• Outstanding Featured Female Performer, Arianna Mubanda, Howell High School, “Mary Poppins”

• Outstanding Featured Male Performer, Matthew Curti, Mater Dei Prep, “Les Misérables”

• Outstanding Featured Ensemble Group, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, “The Secret Garden – The Snake Charmers”

• Outstanding Chorus, Red Bank Catholic High School, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Mater Dei Prep, “Misérables”

• Outstanding Student/Adult Orchestra, Long Branch High School, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Robert M. Clark

• Outstanding All Student Orchestra, Marlboro High School, “1776”, Patrick M. Dalton

• Outstanding Choreography, Middletown High School South, “Heathers,” Jacqui Fischer

• Outstanding Musical Direction, Christian Brothers Academy, “Fiddler on the Roof,” Matthew Anderson and Mater Dei Prep, “Les Misérables,” Cindy J. Dwyer

• Carole Malik Award for Outstanding Costume Design – Musical, Mater Dei Prep, “Les Misérables,” Peggy Baumgartner

• Outstanding Set Design – Musical, Freehold High School, “Once Upon a Mattress,” Kevin Gunther

• Outstanding Lighting Design – Musical, Marlboro High School, “1776,” Jim Lyle and Anthony Greco


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