Here’s your chance to see area teens shine at televised Tune Awards

June 5, 2017 GMT

Some award-winning thespians at Bay Area high schools, along with their friends, fans and family, will get to view their appearances at the 15th annual Tommy Tune Awards when a taped broadcast of the 2017 ceremony is broadcast from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, June 11 on ABC Channel 13.

For example, the cast of Friendswood High School’s 49th annual musical, a production of the school edition of “Les Misérables,” performed “One More Day” in the rousing Act I finale of the Tony Awards-style ceremony, which was held April 18 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston.

Next, Clear Springs High School opened Act II with a spirited song-and-dance number, with Noah Carlin as Edward Bloom teaching his young son how to catch fish by performing a dance called “the Alabama Stomp.”

“Their performance that evening was great,” recalled director Mark Stonebarger, Clear Springs theater director. “The cast earned a tremendous audience response due to the amount of enthusiasm and energy displayed by the entire ensemble.”

Moments later, on the broadcast, viewers will see Friendswood High School win best ensemble/chorus and Clear Springs’ “Big Fish” announced as winner of the coveted best crew & technical execution award.

“We are extremely proud of our technical execution award,” Stonebarger said. “It really was a testament to how disciplined the technicians and actors were as they moved from scene to scene. Even though we did not walk away with more awards, the kids understand you cannot do theater just for the awards - you do it for the love of the art and the impact it can have on your audience, the ultimate goal being a story well-told.”

Clear Springs was nominated for the most Tommy Tune awards of any school, tied with Friendswood, with 14.

Friendswood won four.

Among those rushing to the podium to accept the awards for Friendswood were junior Meredith Fraga and seniors Logan Newsom, Max Rittenhouse, Kylee Hill, Ally Eckart, Kyle Dickens and Elaina Roher.

In addition, five Friendswood High seniors won college scholarships from Theatre Under the Stars, which sponsors the Tommy Tunes as a contest among 45 Houston-area high schools whose musicals are critiqued by three-judge panels of local theater enthusiasts, resulting in nominations and prizes in 15 categories.

The Friendswood High scholarship winners included Yarden Borshevsky-Barr, Maxwell Morgan, Madeline Pertuis, Alex Rudd and Kathleen Sharp.

Morgan and Rudd also performed in the medley of best leading actor nominees, with Rudd, as Jean Valjean, reprising part of “Bring Him Home” and Morgan, as Marius, singing an excerpt from “ABC Café/Red and Black.”

In the medley of best leading actor finalists, Carlin performed a song with another nominee who played Edward Bloom in his school’s production of “Big Fish.” Fellow CSHS finalist Will Byrne, who portrayed Will Bloom, drew applause with his song, “Stranger.”

Emily Mesa, who played Eponine in “Les Misérables” at Friendswood High, opened the medley of best leading actress nominees with a crowd-pleasing taste of her character’s show-stopping ballad, “On My Own.”

Two Clear Springs students won TUTS scholarships, including Emma Carnell and Kaley Vetter.

Vetter and Andrew Johnson also performed in the show’s grand finale, singing “Shine On,” with music and lyrics by the ceremony’s musical director and conductor, Michael Moricz.

They were joined by Friendswood seniors Dante Mercuccio and Lauren Podlewski and two students from each school entered in the Tommy Tunes, including Pearland High (with eight nominations, for “Pippin”), South Houston (five nods, for “Once Upon a Mattress”) and Clear Lake, which was nominated for “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net