MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morristown High School Theatre is relishing in their numerous award nominations at the culmination of their strong 2016-2017 season. This year the department put on two phenomenal productions, You Can’t Take It With You as its Fall Comedy, and Legally Blonde as its Spring Musical, which performed for three entirely sold-out crowds- an MHS first.
The Foxy Awards, hosted by Montclair State University, honor the outstanding achievements of students, directors, and productions in both dramas and comedies. This year, the Morristown High School Theatre Department earned three nominations for their Fall Comedy, You Can’t Take it With You. The program was recognized for their talented ensemble with a nomination for “Outstanding Performance by an Acting Ensemble in a Comedy,” their beautiful set with the award for “Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design,” and its devoted and hard-working stage crew with “Outstanding Achievement in Stage Crew.” Additionally, this year’s new category dubbed "Outstanding Director's Production Note" honored the phenomenal directing team of You Can’t Take it With You, comprised of Michael Maguire, Ralph Losanno, Katie Adams, and Scott Hansen.
The department is honored to have had a successful season and such strong representation at the Foxy Awards. As this is only the program’s second year participating in the Montclair State Award competition, their numerous nominations are an incredible accomplishment and truly highlight the department’s growth in such a short period of time.
Previously, the Morristown High School Theatre Department was recognized for their 2015 Fall Drama: A Christmas Carol, with nominations such as “Outstanding Achievement by an Acting Ensemble of a Drama,” “Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design,” “Outstanding Achievement in Properties,” “Outstanding Achievement in New Media/Special Effects,” and “Excellence in Educational Impact and Community Outreach.” From these nominations, the department won the Foxy Award for “Outstanding Achievement by an Acting Ensemble of a Drama” which recognizes the cast as a whole and their exceptional work as a cohesive group.
“The awards, honorable mentions, and nominations are important to the program because they help the community and school district see how successful the program is, especially compared to other programs, but also highlight what areas need work and continued additional support in growing,” says the program’s Artistic Director, Michael Maguire.
Although unable to secure any wins at this year’s Foxy Awards, the Morristown High School Theatre Department is exceptionally proud to have received such distinguished nominations for their 2016 Fall Comedy, You Can’t Take it With You.
Additionally, the department has received two prestigious nominations from the Paper Mill Rising Star Awards for their Spring Musical, Legally Blonde. These accolades include nominations for “Theatre for All: Access and Inclusion Award” and for the “Educational Impact Award”. They also earned Honorable Mentions for an “Outstanding Performance by a Chorus,” as well as an “Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” for Victoria Fanning’s performance as Paulette Bonafonté. The program also received positive responses from the Paper Mill evaluators. Previously, the program received three nominations, resulting in two wins for their 2016 production of Once Upon A Mattress.
The “Theatre for All: Access and Inclusion” Award proved to be a win for Morristown last year, as it serves to recognize the inclusion of both students and adults with disabilities in all aspects of the theatre program, and accessibility for its audiences. This year’s nomination is thanks largely in part to the newly added “Sensory Friendly Show” which opened a performance to the entire community, adjusting volume and light settings as well as increasing the availability of exits to make those with special needs feel more comfortable. Additionally, 10% of the proceeds from the Thursday night performance was donated to support brain cancer and breast cancer research. The program is honored to receive the nomination for the second year in a row, as they focus on creating an inclusive and accepting environment.
“My initial response to receiving these award nominations was excitement,” said Maguire. “Of course, we always hope for more nominations, since I think our show was phenomenal and I want everyone to feel recognized for all of their talent and hard work, but I'm absolutely thrilled to receive the award nominations that we did.”
The program as a whole is honored to have received recognition from such prestigious competitions, which involve hundreds of high schools from across the state. As a lesser known program that is relatively new to the awards, this year marks a big breakthrough in earning respect and recognition from Paper Mill.
“My goals for the program for next year are to see continued growth of both the physical spaces and technical aspects of the MHS Auditorium, but also the students and program as a whole,” Maguire said. “It's such an amazing program of dedicated students, staff, and parent volunteers – and I hope to see the program growing into a more sustainable, supported, and streamlined organization.”
With such recognition, the program has a bright future ahead in its 2017-2018 season. Its fall drama has been announced as Almost, Maine, a contemporary collection of 9 short plays following the love and loss experienced by several couples in the remote town of Almost, Maine.
The department looks forward with excitement as they anticipate the Paper Mill Rising Star Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 6th.