Aladdin and Something Rotten! star Michael James Scott hosts the 2021 International Thespian Excellence Awards, honoring the best and brightest International Thespian Society student members, June 25 on Playbill at 8:30 PM EDT.
Better known as "The Thespys," the awards are the culmination of the International Thespian Festival, which was held virtually this year June 21–25. Members of the International Thespian Society, an honor organization for theatre students, prepare theatrical material and technical designs for competition at chapter events, the best of which are invited to bring their work to the Festival. Top scores in each category are awarded Thespian Excellence Awards.
Taking honors for duet acting were Jordan Brandt and Dane Lackey of Marble Falls High School in Marble Falls, Texas (troupe 3701) for Leading Ladies; and Cody Dixon and Trysten Williams of George Washington Carver Marnet High School in Houston, Texas (troupe 6753) for Jitney. Aniela Erwin and Nicole Minar of Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus, New Jersey (troupe 4762) won duet musical for "I Don't Know His Name" from She Loves Me. Jakob Barton, Seth McCrary, Reece Jones, and Jakob Kaweki of Andrews High School in Andrews, Texas (1580) won a group acting honor for The Boys Next Door; and Nicole Gee, Christopher Duncan, Ashwin Hillenbrand, Mia Subora, Kenzi Patton, Rachel Lazarou, and Hannah Bronsell of John Randolph Foster High School in Richmond, Texas (troupe 7961) took group musical performing "Skid Row" from Little Shop of Horrors. Corinne Fischer of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington (troupe 5832) won the Monologue honor for Eleemosynary/Dance Nation. Solo musical honors went to Layla Abu Saada of Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas (troupe 5078) for "Lost in the Brass" from Band Geeks; Madeline King, also of Olathe East, for "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" from Camelot; McKayla Mitchell of Springfield Township High School in Oreland, Pennsylvania (troupe 1154) for "I'm Here" from The Color Purple; Grace McKenna of Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Pennsylvania (troupe 8046) for "When the Music Played" from Dr. Zhivago; and Grace Sorensen of Redmond Proficiency Academy in Redmond, Oregon (troupe 7715) for "Changing My Major" from Fun Home.
Bennett Cooper of Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington (troupe 1506) and Margaret Hammond of Nuview Bridge Early College High School in Nuevo, California (troupe 8117) won awards for costume construction, for their work on The Phantom of the Opera and Shrek respectively. Hammond also won an honor for her costume design on Urinetown. Lighting design went to Claire Charvet of Janita High School in Kirkland, Washington (troupe 3422) for She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers' Edition; and Maxine Palmerton of Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington (troupe 6356) for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Athena Jett of Bishop Gorman Catholic High School in Las Vegas, Nevada (troupe 4347) won makeup design for her work on Into the Woods, and Caroline Yim of Juanita High School in Kirkland, Washington (troupe 3422) won scenic design for The Hound of the Baskervilles. Taking sound design were Eleanor Madderra of The Mount Vernon School in Sandy Springs, Georgia (troupe 7702) for Return to the Forbidden Planet; and Emma Stellmach of Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana (troupe 2108) for The Nether.
Jacki Vellandi of Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California (troupe 6826) won the playwrighting honor for Reverie. Stage management awards went to Ona Alumbaugh of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington (troupe 5832) for Everybody, Natalie Lawton of Redmond Proficiency Academy in Redmond, Oregon (troupe 7715) for Bright Star; and Pradanya Subramanyan of Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas (troupe 3689) for Heathers The Musical (High School Edition). Hillary Altes of Francis Parker School in San Diego, California took the honor for theatre marketing for her work on Radium Girls.
Ryan Kang of Marianas High School in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands (troupe 5374) and Sophie Littig of Los Alamito High School in Los Alamitos, California (troupe 2395) won for their short animated films The Mask Task and By My Side (respectively), and Alvaro Velazquez of Wylie High School in Wylie, Texas (troupe 2395) won short film for The Strait.
The Grace Kelly Scholarship program, announced last month, awarded $35,000 in financial support to Laila Carter of Bogart Georgia, along with Thespys winners Hammond, Lacket, Lawton, Sorensen, Stellmach, Subramanyan, Vellandi, Williams, and Yim. Sorensen also received the Amy Bennett Scholarship.
Though the Thespys focus on student excellence, the Festival also awarded two theatre educators with the Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Teachers of the Year Award June 24. Roshunda Jones of G.W. Carver Magnet High School in Houston, Texas, and Holly Stanfield of Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, were the dual recipients of the honor presented by The ASCAP Foundation and the Educational Theatre Association.
Open to Thespian Society student members and theatre educators, the week-long event of workshops, performances, college auditions, and networking included appearances from stage manager and activist Cody Renard Richard, The Book of Mormon and Shuffle Along… vet Arbender Robinson, and others. A virtual college fair offered students a chance to explore collegiate theatre programs, and unified auditions allowed students to get in front of more than 60 of the nation's top college theatre programs.
For more information about the International Thespian Society and its parent organization, the Educational Theatre Association, visit SchoolTheatre.org.