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Student performers will vie for laurels in NYC

| Saturday, May 24, 2014, 11:06 p.m.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Joe Nickel, choreographer for Penn Hills High School directs student performers during rehearsal at the Gene Kelly Awards ceremony at the Benedum Center, Saturday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Penn Hills High School student performers go through their steps during rehearsal at the Gene Kelly Awards ceremony at the Benedum Center, Saturday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Central Catholic student performers, Emmanuel Key and Katheryn Hess go through their steps during rehearsal at the Gene Kelly Awards ceremony at the Benedum Center, Saturday.

Marnie Quick and Ryan Borgo received awards for Best Actress and Best Actor at the 2014 Gene Kelly Awards show on May 24 in the Benedum Center, Downtown.

Quick appeared as Tinman in Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy's production “The Wiz.”

Borgo played Frank Abignale Jr. in West Allegheny's production of “Catch Me If You Can.”

As the winners of best actor and best actress awards, Quick and Borgo will represent Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's Gene Kelly Awards in the sixth annual National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City on June 30. Informally known as The Jimmys, the national awards show involves more than 50,000 students each year.

The big winner at the Gene Kelly Awards was Hampton High School's production of “Young Frankenstein.” The production received five awards for best Budget Level II scenic design, choreography, direction, ensemble and all-student orchestra.

In all, 18 awards were conferred at the 24nd annual Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater.

Twenty-nine Allegheny County high schools participated in this year's competition. Productions and performances from 10 musicals received one or more awards.

Named for singer, dancer actor and Pittsburgh native Gene Kelly, the annual celebration emphasizes the importance of arts education and recognizes the time, energy and dedication that local high schools and students devote to their musical productions each spring.

Patterned after Broadway's Tony Awards, the ceremony included live performances of excerpts from each of the nine best musical nominees. Best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress nominees showcased their talents with live performances, too.

Earlier in the evening Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera presented Distinguished Alumni Awards to three former participants in the Gene Kelly Awards at a special reception before the awards ceremony:

Dustin Giffin, a theater technical designer and president of Giffin Interior and Fixture; Andrew Giffin, lighting designer; and Sarrah Strimel, a veteran performer whose credits include “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Big Fish.”

During the awards ceremony, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera awarded $117,000 in scholarships to several college-bound seniors:

• Alexis Loiselle, Thomas Kovach and Kevin Malesic each received a $5,000 scholarship per year, renewable for four years, to attend Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts for Musical Theater.

• Benjamin King and Saige Smith received Gene Kelly Cash Scholarships totaling $10,000 for high school seniors who have applied and been accepted to a school for the performing or technical arts.

• The Pittsburgh CLO Ambassadors awarded $5,000 scholarships to two college-bound students who will be pursuing a major outside of the arts. The 2014 Ambassadors' Scholarship winners are Joshua Scherrer and Sarah Waters.

• Eleven students who are pursuing a college education in theater arts received The CLO Guild scholarships: $2,000 to Jenna Scannelli; $4,000 to Neal Bechman, Ryan Borgo, Areo Kelley, Kyley Klass, Sarah Krempasky, Hannah Lane, Amy Russell, Annastassia Stewart and Zane Travis; and a $4,000 scholarship in the name of Constance T. Rockwell and the Charity Randall Foundation to Michael Zak.

The Charles Gray Award for Special Achievement in Education was presented to Northside Catholic in recognition of its commitment to arts education.

Award recipients

Best Musical

• Budget Level I: Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy for “The Wiz”

• Budget Level II: Hampton for “Young Frankenstein”

• Budget Level III: West Allegheny for “Catch Me If You Can”

Best Scenic Design

• Budget Level I: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for “The Wiz”

• Budget Level II: Hampton for “Young Frankenstein”

• Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for “Sweeney Todd”

Best Costume Design

• Budget Level I: St. Joseph for “Shrek, the Musical”

• Budget Level II: Central Catholic for “Monty Python's Spamalot”

• Budget Level III: Baldwin for “Shrek, the Musical”

Best Lighting Design

• Budget Level I: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for “The Wiz”

• Budget Level II: Riverview for “Fiddler on the Roof”

• Budget Level III: Woodland Hills for “Sweeney Todd”

• Best Actor: Ryan Borgo of West Allegheny

• Best Actress: Marnie Quick of Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy

• Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Michael Zak of Central Catholic

• Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Brook Taylor of Woodland Hills

• Best All-Student Orchestra: Hampton

• Best Ensemble: Hampton

• Best Crew/Technical Execution: Pine-Richland

• Best Choreography: Hampton

• Best Direction: Hampton

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media.

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