Kelly Awards: Big Night for Show People

Baldwin High School takes top honor at the Gene Kelly Awards for "Curtains."

Baldwin High School took home a Gene Kelly Award for "Best Musical, Budget Level III" for its production of the musical mystery comedy, "Curtains."

Pittsburgh CLO and the University of Pittsburgh presented the 22nd annual Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater Saturday night. The event, held at the Benedum Center in downtown Pittsburgh, selected performers from 32 participating high schools that produced a spring musical.

The award, named for iconic Hollywood movie star and Pittsburgh native Gene Kelly, was given to promote excellence in high school musical theatre. Kelly is most notably remembered for “Singin' in the Rain,” the titular song in the classic musical comedy, “Singing in the Rain.”

Pine-Richland, Woodland Hills, North Hills, Moon, Chartiers Valley, Plum, St. Joseph, Quaker Valley, Brashear and were a few of the schools that were nominated. 

Like many televised award shows, such as the Emmys, Oscars and Tonys, one big musical number from each of the school’s nominated for Best Musical perform a signature song from the show.

The cast of Bishop Canevin opened the show with “Lot of Livin’ to Do” from “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Baldwin High School performed “Show People,” a popular ditty from “Curtains.” The same song was later reprised by the Woodland Hills cast’s interpretation.  The song extols the virtues of performing, declaring that people from all walks of life dream of becoming actors, dancers, singers and other performers:

“We're a special kind of people known as show people. We live in a world of our own; our days are tied to curtains. They rise and they fall. We're born every night, at half-hour call.”

Truer words were never sung. The audience, mostly cast and crew from participating high school musicals around western Pennsylvania, was energized by the evening’s events.

Other musical numbers included North Hills cast of “My Fair Lady” performing “Get Me to the Church on Time,” Our Lady of Sacred Heart’s rendition of “Brotherhood of Man” from “How to Succeed in Business,” Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy's rendition of “Footloose” from the eponymous musical, Quaker Valley performance of “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” from “Guys and Dolls” and Avonworth's performance of the “Finale” from “Sweeney Todd.”

There was also a grand finale number, “Eyes on the Goal,” which was comprised of performers from each of the participating schools.

Ryan Lubin, formerly of Bethel Park, a non-competing school, attended the event to cheer on his friend, Connor Doran from Baldwin’s "Curtains."

“We met doing shows at South Park’s Children’s Theatre and we’ve been friends ever since. It’s really exciting.”

Patricia Ward Kelly, widow of Gene Kelly, was a presenter at the event. She spoke fondly of her husband and his talents. This year award ceremony marks Kelly's 100th birthday. Ward Kelly discussed her his humble beginnings.

"He and his brother Fred performed dance routines in local talent contests around Pittsburgh. He never took his fame for granted and he believed that the pursuit of excellence is a good thing … a very good thing. Don’t just be good, be the best. I can’t think of a better birthday present for him.”

The recipients of the 2012 Gene Kelly Awards are:

Best Scenic Design

Budget Level I: Quaker Valley

Budget Level II: Avonworth

Budget Level III: Woodland Hills

Best Costume Design

Budget Level I: St. Joseph

Budget Level II: Hampton

Budget Level III: Winchester Thurston

Best Lighting Design

Budget Level I: Quaker Valley

Budget Level II: Avonworth

Budget Level III: Woodland Hills

Best All-Student Orchestra


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Benjamin Torisky of Quaker Valley won for his performance as Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls."

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Emma Baker of Avonworth took the award for her portrayal of Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd

Best Ensemble


Best Crew/Technical Execution

Woodland Hills

Best Choreography


Best Direction


Best Actor

Nathan Pool of Avonworth won for his depiction of Sweeney Todd in "Sweeney Todd."

Best Actress

Brooke Tate of Avonworth won for her rendition of Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd"

Best Musical

Budget Level I: Quaker Valley took home a prize for their production of "Guys and Dolls."

Budget Level II: Avonworth won for their "Sweeney Todd."

Budget Level III: Baldwin won for their production of the musical mystery comedy, "Curtains."

Other awards and scholarships were doled out during the evening. West Allegheny Middle School won the Charles Gray Award for Special Achievement in Arts Education in recognition of its enduring commitment to arts education.

Pittsburgh CLO awarded more than $87,000 in scholarships to several college-bound seniors at the ceremony.

Point Park University’s Musical Theater Department, presented Adrianne Knapp and Brandon Martin with a $5,000 per year, four-year scholarship to attend Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts for musical theater.

Pittsburgh CLO awarded Gene Kelly Cash Scholarships totaling $10,000 were presented to two high school seniors who have applied and been accepted to a school for the performing or technical arts. This year’s recipients are Elizabeth Faux and Zander Lyons.

The Pittsburgh CLO Ambassadors awarded $5,000 in scholarships to two college-bound students who will be pursuing a major outside of the arts. The 2012 Ambassadors’ Scholarship winners were Hannah Devlin and David Kline.

The Pittsburgh CLO Guild also awarded $4,000 scholarships to eight students who are pursuing a college education in the theater arts. The Guild presented scholarships to Tyler Harper, Alyssa Abraham, Gabrielle Bricker, Zander Lyons, Olivia Meyer, Savannah Spratt, Alexa Anderson and Rebecca Love.

The winners for Best Actor and Best Actress, Pool and Tate, will compete for the opportunity to represent Pittsburgh CLO’s Gene Kelly Awards in the third-annual National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City on Monday, June 25.

For more information on the National High School Musical Theater Awards, please visit www.nhsmta.com.


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