The ##-person ensemble (photo courtesy of Notre Dame Preparatory)
The 33-person ensemble for “Urinetown: the Musical,” won a National Youth Arts award alongside their director, individual actors and their costume designer. The futuristic Steampunk piece featured handmade costumes. (photo courtesy of Notre Dame Preparatory)

A school’s auditorium or performing arts theatre is far removed from the lights of Broadway, but that doesn’t mean its theatrical production can’t rival it in quality. Student actors and the adults who help them behind the scenes throughout the Diocese of Phoenix took home 15 Youth Arts Awards in the ninth annual competition.

Much like the Tonys, the awards recognized outstanding actors, actresses, ensembles, directors and costume designers for theatrical productions put on during the 2013-14 school year. Youth theatre companies were also eligible for awards.

Actors received their awards in regional ceremonies on various dates. The latest was held Aug. 5 at Mesa High School with another scheduled for Sept. 7 in Phoenix.

Two actors and a costumer designer at two local Catholic high schools were the only recipients in their category. Sophia Deyden won for outstanding lead actress in a play for her role as Elinor Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility.” It was a joint production of Brophy and Xavier college preparatories.

Jack Bidese was named Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical” for his portrayal of Hot Blades Harry in a Steampunk version of “Urinetown: The Musical” at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Scottsdale. His costume designer, Julia Files, an alumni parent, was the only recipient in her category.

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“The costumes are painstakingly made by hand to be specific for each character, whether they belonged to the wealthy class or the poor people of the streets,” said Bonnie Wilson, director.

Files and her “Sewing Saints,” along with the cast, spent five months scouring thrift stores and a costume cooperative who custom fit just the right pieces. Even the crew and some musicians dressed in style by the end.

Wilson said she enjoyed working with the cast who value the arts and the life skills they gain by being involved in a theatrical production.

Hale __ and Emily Temple, right, (photo courtesy of Notre Dame Preparatory)
Hale Stewart and Emily Temple, right, earned acting awards for their characters in “Urintetown: The Musical.” (photo courtesy of Notre Dame Preparatory)

“They realize that their talents are God-given and that they come with a responsibility to honor those talents with effort and excellence. I love that our tradition is to gather in front of the chapel to pray before every show, and that they think first of the audience and then of themselves,” Wilson said.

Notre Dame took home four additional awards and eight nominations for its musical. The awards included:

  • Outstanding Direction by Bonnie Wilson (one of three awarded)
  • Outstanding Ensemble (one of 12)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a musical by Emily Temple as Penelope Pennywise (one of four). She also choreographed a dance number.
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical by Hale Stewart as Bobby Strong (one of seven). Stewart also earned an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play nomination through a community theatre.

More on Weigel’s sacrifice

Judges recognized two students at Seton College Preparatory in Chandler. Austin Weigel, who put himself through a Lenten sacrifice to embrace the role as Jesus in “Godspell,” was one of seven recipients of the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical award.

Audrey Pfeifer, who played Violet Imbry/Diana Lassiter in “Play On!” was among five recipients recognized for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play. The production centers on a small community theatre group performing a new play that the author keeps revising throughout rehearsal. Pfeifer played a naïve young woman who knows her lines, just not always what they mean.

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The large ensemble who put on “Cinderella: A Ragtime Musical” at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale last fall was one of two recipients honored in the junior division of the ensemble category. Marcella Anglim picked up an additional junior award — one of two named Outstanding Supporting Actress — for her portrayal as the godmother.

The Brophy/Xavier production of "Once on This Island" earned (photo courtesy of Xavier College Preparatory)
The Brophy/Xavier production of “Once on This Island” earned four National Youth Arts Awards including for outstanding ensemble. (photo courtesy of Xavier College Preparatory)

Award winners from Brophy and Xavier plays can pick up their awards at the Sept. 7 ceremony. The actors in “Once on This Island” took home four awards including Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Production. The musical was Janice Robillard’s final production as Xavier’s theatre director.

The story, set on a Caribbean island, tells the fable of a young poor girl who falls in love with a wealthy man and must fight against class, tradition and prejudice. Ali Getz played Ti Moune, the poor girl, and was one of six recipients of the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical awards. Liz McGovern played Mama Euralie and was among four recipients in the supporting role category.

Other Catholic schools

Three Catholic high schools in California took home three awards from an awards ceremony held July 20 at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Four of the five awards Archbishop Mitty High School took back to San Jose, Calif. were for outstanding acting in its musicals.

Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego took home three awards. They were the only recipient of an Outstanding Choreography Award and earned two for acting in different musicals.

The Archbishop Riodran student who played Snoopy in an the all boy Marianist high school production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” was one of six recipients of the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical award.