A red-carpet gala affair capped off a fantastic year in performing arts for many of the cast and crew of Harker’s recent spring musical, “Oklahoma!”
During the June 3 evening event the Harker Conservatory students and educators were honored for a very respectable eight nominations and announced as winners in the sound and choreography categories at the Bay Area High School Musical Theatre: Stage Top Honor Awards.
Held at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose, the gala ceremony featured performances from Harker and all the nominated high schools. Sponsored by the San Jose Stage Company, the prestigious awards program encourages and rewards exceptional accomplishments in the production of high school musical theater across the Bay Area.
Harker’s production of “Oklahoma!,” directed by Laura Lang-Ree, performing arts chair K-12, was among those that stood out from the 19 private and public high school musicals who competed in the awards, which are modeled after Broadway’s Tony Awards.
Among the awards that Harker was nominated for at the recognition event were: overall production, chorus, student achievement in technical theater (Simon Orr, grade 12, stage manager), best supporting actor (Justin Gerard, grade 12), best supporting actress (Shenel Ekici, grade 11), and musical direction (Catherine Snider). The school walked away with top honors for choreography (Katie O’Bryon, specialist) and sound design (Brian Larsen, faculty, and Nicholas Semenza, grade 11).
Lang-Ree said she is “thrilled” with both the nominations and awards. “It’s so great that Brian is recognized for making the very best sound experience in a very difficult space. He does a great job.”
“It’s nice to be singled out for something that you’re passionate about,” said Larsen. “I view our work as collaborative, a true team effort, so recognition of my work is lovely, but I think it reflects on the production as a whole: the choral work of the performers, the amazing musicians in the band – it’s another really strong production in a series of strong productions.”
“Nicky’s work as a sound engineer cannot be complimented strongly enough,” Larsen continued. “He grew into the show, along with the show, and got better and more confident as the run progressed. For me, that’s the greatest part of producing theater in high school: you get to watch first-hand as students gain the skills and confidence to do it themselves.”
Lang-Ree added, “It’s a very special honor to be one of only six shows (out of 19) nominated for best show, and it makes the evening so much fun when we get to perform on that beautiful stage. Performing in front of your peers is an awesome experience. The six casts and production teams were so supportive of each other’s work, and it was rewarding to hear all the positive feedback on our performance from a group of our peers.”
Lang-Ree also expressed her appreciation for choreographer O’Bryon, saying, “To all of us, Katie is part of the Harker family and has been so for over five years. We are so lucky that Harker is the only school where she works as a choreographer as her ‘day job’ as director of Peninsula Youth Theatre keeps her very busy. She is so talented and so much fun to collaborate with, and she brings out the best in our students, no matter what their skill level.”
Judges comprising theater professionals, performing artists, designers and theater arts educators evaluated the various schools’ productions and made their nominations in categories of acting, design, direction, musical direction, choreography, technical production and overall production excellence.
Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Oklahoma!” for a great end-of-the-year musical and a host of nominations and wins at the Top Honor Awards!