SHS’s fall production receives 14 Jerry Awards nominations
The Overture Center in Madison recently announced a list of The Jerry Awards recipients for the 2018-19 season.
Within the 98 productions around the state in 92 communities of varying sizes and theater programs with varying budgets, Sparta High School’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella received two awards including Outstanding Musical Direction by Camie Schneider and the Spirit Award for Michael Krpan.
The Jerry Awards is one of Wisconsin’s high school musical awards programs that encourages, recognizes and honors excellence in high school musical theatre. The program began during the 2009-10 school year and has since expanded across the state of Wisconsin.
Theatre educators and professionals review productions at more than 92 high schools and community theatre organizations in 30 counties providing valuable feedback to cast and crews.
SHS’s production of Cinderella was the new Broadway revival version, which has a twist with Cinderella taking her shoe instead of leaving it. Director Skyler Erickson and Musical Director Camie Schneider chose Cinderella because they wanted to do a modern show with a classical twist.
“This show gave us the best of both worlds because it’s the new version but it’s still the classic story everyone knows,” Erickson said. “It also really fit the talent pool that we had at the time.”
The show ran from November 8 to 11 and for the first time SHS sold out three of the four shows. The theater sits 653 people and after the first night, not a single seat was empty as word of mouth began to spread.
“I think the quality of the production was great and a lot of the people who came said that it did not seem like a high school show,” Erickson added. “We had such a good team and it just felt like a more professional show.”
The 25 cast and 11 crewmembers decided they didn’t just want to cater to the Sparta community; they wanted the quality of their show to attract audience members from all over.
Erickson focused on character development to help bring the show to life as well as top notch set design, transitional costumes, seamless scene changes and moving pieces.
“Our goal was to embrace the audience and have them be taken into the story and see how that magic is created,” Erickson said. “We really wanted to captivate what the audience wants to see. We wanted it to be a very magical experience and I think we executed that.”
For two of its four shows, SHS had judges in the audience. The judges evaluate the show and performances and are responsible for nominating schools.
In addition to winning two awards, Sparta High School was nominated for 12 other awards including, Outstanding lead performance by Bethany Bjerke as Charlotte, Natalie Spencer as Ella, Michael Krpan as Prince Topher and Emma Blazek as Marie; Outstanding Supporting Performance by Bryanna Todryk as Madame and Tarren Yauchler as Lord Pinkleton; Outstanding Choreography by Jen TeBeest; Outstanding Stage Managenment by Camie Schneider, Cheyenne Clark, Jen TeBeest and Sarah Seegert; Outstanding Scenic Design by Skyler Erickson; Outstanding Lighting Design by Skyler Erickson and Matthew Rightmire; Outstanding Costume Design by Kris Peterson and Maggie Helfrich and Outstanding Sound Design by Skyler Erickson.
“With anything, when you put your time and effort into it and you get the recognition you know you’re doing the right thing,” Erickson said. “We do it for the kids and we want to give them the most true life experience we can, especially for someone who’s going into this career.”
SHS senior Michael Krpan, who played Prince Topher and was the recipient of the Spirit Award, is planning to attend University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in the fall to study Musical Theater. Krpan also acted as Student Director during the production.
“There are people who have the talent to pick things up quickly and it comes naturally to them,” Erickson said. “Michael was a strong candidate because he has that natural talent and he could have done a couple or roles in the show.”
During the Jerry Awards show, Krpan will be performing in a group number with other Spirit Award winners from schools around the state.
The 2019 Jerry Awards will be held on June 9 at 3 and 7:30 p.m. at Overture Hall in Madison and can be live-streamed by WPT on its website. The show will also be televised on PBS later in June; the details can be found on the Overture Center website at https://www.overture.org/programs/jerry-awards.