After five performances of the musical Catch Me If You Can, including a sold out encore show to raise money for Save the Children’s Ukraine Relief Effort, Ringgold High School Performing Arts has been nominated for 12 Shuler Awards, including Best Overall Production.
The Shuler Awards, named in honor of actor/singer and Georgia native, Shuler Hensley, celebrates excellence in high school musical theatre throughout the state of Georgia.
Here are the nominations for Catch Me If You Can:
Best Overall Production
Direction - Jané Ellis
Music Direction - Abby Hatch and Iley Barnes
Leading Actor – Eli Talley
Supporting Performer – Will Forgey
Supporting Performer – Trever Arnold
Costumes – Kelly Schroder
Lighting Design – Ashton Head
Scenic Design – Kelly Schroder
Sound - Nehemiah Daves
Technical Execution - Kelly Schroder and Chloe Snyder
In 2021, RHSPA received 11 Shuler nominations, winning seven awards, including Best Overall Production for Anastasia. This year’s 12 nominations are the most in the program’s history.
At the encore performance of Catch Me If You Can, the production helped raise nearly $30,000 for Save the Children’s Ukraine Relief Effort, which included a $10,000 donation from Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., who surprised the cast the crew with an appearance, as he and his wife Kelly made the trip from their home in Charleston, S.C. Catch Me If You Can is based on Mr. Abagnale’s life and has been featured as a book, movie, and Tony nominated Broadway musical.
Following one year as an “all virtual” statewide competition, The Shuler Awards or The Shulers – named for the Marietta-born stage and screen star Shuler Hensley – will this year return to a traditional live performance and awards celebration event on April 21, marking the 14th straight year of competition and the first since May 2019 back on the stage of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
The awards ceremony will also air live on statewide television via Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB-TV) with additional rebroadcasts later in April. A video of today’s nominations announcement, as well as the future winner announcements, may be found at ArtsBridgeGA.org/Programs/Shuler-Awards.
Shulers winners and nominees are recognized as the best of the state’s high school musical theatre students and schools. The complete nominees list is available later in this press release and online in the Shuler Awards section of ArtsBridgeGA.org.
The main objectives of the Shuler Awards program are to increase awareness, advocacy and support for Georgia’s arts education programs, to develop and foster growing talent by providing learning and performance opportunities, and to cultivate/nurture productive relationships among Georgia’s promising thespians and educators.
The Shuler Award categories traditionally include overall production, direction, music direction, orchestra, scenic design, costumes, choreography, and best performances by an ensemble, leading actress, leading actor and featured performer. In 2021 the competition added a Show-Must-Go-On Spotlight Award. The categories of sound, lighting and technical execution returned to the Shuler Awards competition this year after a pause for last year’s virtual-only format. This year’s competition also included a first-ever competition category, which ArtsBridge Foundation announced earlier in the 2021-2022 school year.
“As noted in November, we combed previous categories of supporting actress and supporting actor into an expanded, non-gendered performance category named ‘supporting performer,’” said Elizabeth Lenhart, director of arts education for ArtsBridge Foundation. “This category now recognizes and celebrates students of any gender who performed in supporting roles in their school’s production, with the two highest-scoring students to be jointly awarded as this year’s recipients for one of the nation’s first supporting performer awards, a change that greater serves Georgia high school musical theatre students who identify across the entire gender spectrum.”
The Shuler Awards competition is among the nation’s first regional high school musical theatre awards programs to institute such a change, in good company with other first-time non-gendered performance awards competitions in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas.
“ArtsBridge Foundation congratulates this year’s Shuler Award nominees from high schools across Georgia,” said Jennifer D. Dobbs, executive director of ArtsBridge Foundation. “Following two years of extraordinary pandemic-related challenges, this year’s competition felt closer to the traditional competition launched 14 year ago.”
“Looking ahead, we’re already making notes for our 15th Anniversary competition next year,” said Ms. Dobbs. “Until then, anyone who loves musical theater should please tune-in to the live GPB-TV broadcast April 21 at 8 p.m. ET.”
ArtsBridge Foundation and GPB-TV live broadcasts of The Shulers won the Southeast Emmy Award in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 for special event coverage, indicative of the superb quality and high production value Georgia students bring at show time.
Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, this year’s Shuler Award nominees span 26 public and private schools from 13 counties across the Peach State.
In recent months, 46 volunteer adjudicators who each are Georgia-based arts professionals fanned out across the state to attend 46 live Shuler Awards® candidate productions presented by hopeful high school theater students, some accompanied by high school band and orchestra participants.
High school theater students and departments were judged in 17 categories including: direction, music direction, orchestra, choreography, overall production, scenic design, lighting, costumes, technical execution, sound, and best performances by an ensemble, leading actress, leading actor, supporting performer and featured performer. Adjudicators also cited one school each to receive the spotlight and showstopper honors.
This year, Ringgold High School of Catoosa Co. leads with 12 overall nominations for their production of “Catch Me If You Can” while Lambert High School of Suwanee, Ga., earned 10 nominations for “The SpongeBob Musical.”
West Forsyth High School of Cumming, Ga., received nine nominations, Tri-Cities High School of East Point, Ga., received seven for “Fela!” and tied with five nominations each are Lakeview Academy of Gainesville, Ga., for “Something Rotten!,” Milton High School’s “Anastasia” and Morgan High School of Madison, Ga., in “Les Misérables.”
The Shuler Awards leading actress and actor winners will travel to New York City as Georgia’s entrants for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program named The Jimmy Awards® and participate in the awards show at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway on June 27, with merit scholarships and professional opportunities up for grabs. These national competitions were canceled in spring 2020 due to pandemic-related Broadway closures, returning in 2021 with an all-virtual format organized by Broadway League.
The April 21 Shuler Awards event replicates the national Tony Awards® ceremony with red carpet arrivals and live musical performances broadcast live and statewide via Georgia Public Broadcasting. The accounting firm Bennett Thrasher tabulated the results for the 2022 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees.
Since 2009, the Shuler Awards engaged over 60,000 students from 142 schools and 38 counties/school systems. In August 2019, registration day for the 2019-2020 competition broke records with 75 schools from 26 counties enrolling in the program online, filling the application pool in less than 20 minutes. In August, registrations for the 50 schools of the 2021-2022 competition were also completed in 15 minutes. More information is available on the ArtsBridge Foundation website at ArtsBridgeGA.org/Programs/Shuler-Awards.