Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Pippin” for winning Best Chorus at the San Jose Stage Top Honors program last night! This very special award recognizes the strength of the entire cast throughout the show as singers, actors and dancers. (Note: The cast and crew of “Pippin” will put on a pair of shows as fundraisers to help defray their costs for the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click for details).
“This award is a particular favorite of the production team,” said Laura Lang Ree, performing arts chair and director of “Pippin.” “We are thrilled to receive it for the third time. This was the one award that I really wanted as it highlights the core philosophy of the musical theater department: no stars. The ensemble is the storyteller of a musical and the most important aspect of any show. I was happy!”
Top Honors judges adjudicate about 20 participating Bay Area high schools each year, providing feedback on their productions. Judges then nominate the top schools in a variety of categories and host a Tony-style evening of performances and awards. Harker was nominated for nine awards, including Best Show and Best Leading Actor (John Ammatuna and Daniel Cho, both now graduated, were nominated for Best Leading Actor) giving the cast the privilege of performing live at the awards.
The cast also was one of only five schools to perform at the awards as a nominee for Best Show, performing an awesome rendition of “Magic to Do” which was a huge crowd pleaser, according to Lang Ree. Ammatuna, as a nominee for Best Leading Actor, also performed live (nominee Cho was out of the country).
Judges noted, “This production’s standout star is the ensemble. The choral and background vocals in the songs were strong. As actors, the entire ensemble were constantly acting and reacting to the scene around them in a way that didn’t distract the audience but enhanced the scene enormously. Fantastic work from the entire ensemble.”
The comments went on: “Outstanding energy and animation … Excellent ability to express character and move story forward through dance. Excellent rendition of ‘Morning Glow’ and ‘Finale’ … The ensemble in this show had an incredible overall commitment to the pacing and energy of the show, which was especially evident in the opening number … The cast was a pleasure to watch from start to finish … Loved the energy, the concept, and the commitment that the cast brought to the show.”
Congrats to the entire Harker production team of Catherine Snider, musical director; Brian Larsen, sound engineer/production manager; and Paul Vallerga, scenic designer/technical director, as well as Lang-Ree and the whole student crew and cast!