On May 18, Orange Live was with Rob Kennedy and the Amity Theater kids when they learned they had received 14 nominations from the CT High School Musical Theater Awards officials.
On Monday evening, June 1, everyone was dressed to the nines as they entered the Palace Theater in Waterbury for the Awards Gala.
Amity, with its nomination as Outstanding Production of the Year, opened the show with a musical number from Tarzan. Little Ryan Kennedy as young Tarzan getting hoots and hollers from the crowd, even though, unfortunately, something was wrong with the sound system. For the first 1/4 of the song the audience could only really enjoy the dancing and heard a low mumble as the kids sang their hearts out.
Amity kids weren’t the only ones to be muted, the first best actress nominee to perform powered through about a third of her song without being heard as well.
The Amity contingent went wild when presenter Connor Deane — Orange native, Amity grad, former Amity theater kid, graduate of the University of Cincinnati, College- Conservatory of Music and now the Executive Director/Resident Acting Coach at the Broadway Method Academy in Trumbull— graced the stage to present the award for Outstanding Hair and Make up Achievement.
The Amity group also shattered the sound barrier when Andrea Kennedy and David Linet won that award. Andrea hugged her former student, then graciously accepted the award and gave David plenty of time to offer his thanks too.
The second award that Amity won was for Outstanding Sound Design – Tom “Ivan” Ivanovich and Dave Trovarelli – Horizon Sound.
As the evening wound down to a close with only a few categories left to announce, Brett Bernardini, who founded the Awards 7 years ago, announced that they never present any awards for no reason, but several professionals in New York and adjudicators in Connecticut insisted that one person receive an award for his work and for inspiring an entire school. That person is Ryan Kennedy.
Ryan took the stage to thunderous applause and gave a sweet, unprepared speech.
Amity’s Tarzan and Jane, Max Karsanow and Addie Robbins were part of an ensemble group of students from 13 high schools who took part in the tribute song of the evening — “What I Did For Love” — a tradition that began two years ago to honor the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary.
One Amity Alumni that we didn’t see (but his name appeared in the program) was 2013 grad Peter Charney, who was the Assistant Stage Manager.
St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol was the big winner with 7 awards, including Lead Actress, Director and Production of the Year.
But Amity wasn’t out of the spotlight. While accepting his best director award, St. Paul’s Mark Mazzarella took a moment to mention that his students noticed the person next to him, shook his hand and hugged him whenever he won an award. “Wasn’t he up for that award too?” they’d ask.
That person, his competition, was Amity’s Rob Kennedy.
Mazzarella said, “It’s not that you win, or how many prizes you take home, it’s your actions that the kids see that will leave a lasting impression.”
The Spirit of St. Paul
One of Mazzarella’s students, Chiara Giampietro was up for Best Actress for her role as Maria in The Sound of Music. On Sunday evening she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to perform her full number, Mazzarella quickly put together a 3 minute video showing highlights of her performance in the play.
Out of the hospital, less than 24 hours after her life saving surgery Chiara came on stage after St. Paul’s cast performance and sang a couple of lines from Climb Ev’ry Mountain with KodyLynn Perkins who won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as Mother Abbas.
Chiara went on stage a few minutes later when her name was announced as best actress, and then again when St. Paul’s won best production of the year.
Chiara and Best Actor Zac Gottschall will both represent Connecticut in the Nationals on Broadway and have won $1,000 scholarships to attend the Broadway Method Academy’s Musical Theater Summer Intensive course.
This may not have been Amity’s year, but, as Ryan Kennedy said, “Even if we don’t win Production of the Year, it’s just an honor to be here.”