Arts & Entertainment

Six Rising Star Award Nominations and Three Honorable Mentions Hooks “Big Fish”

Mayor Don Price (Aidan Murphy) pleads with Edward Bloom (Xavier Lighten) to help save their hometown. Credits: Alison Dooley

RAHWAY, NJ - From within a sea of musical productions overflowing with talent this year from New Jersey’s high schools, Rahway High School’s production of “Big Fish” has been honored with six Paper Mill Playhouse “Rising Star Award” nominations, along with an additional three citations of honorable mention.

The student musical directed and choreographed by Alison Dooley, teacher of Musical Theatre and Dance, and musically directed by Robert Van Wyck, Choral Music Teacher and Orchestra Conductor, rides the tide of nominations in the categories of ‘Best Overall Production of a Musical (“Big Fish”), ‘Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor (Xavier Lighten), ‘Outstanding Performance in a Feature Role’ (Najah Hetsberger), ‘Outstanding Performance by a Chorus’, ‘Outstanding Achievement by a Teacher’ (Alison Dooley), and ‘Outstanding Costuming Achievement’ (Audrey Angrisani and Tina Campagna).

‘Honorable Mention’ nods were bestowed upon Robert Van Wyck for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction’, Alison Dooley for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging’, along with Al Angrisani and Jeff Drylewicz for ‘Outstanding Scenic Achievement’.

Spirits are high, as are the hopes of the nominees as they head enthusiastically to the final awards ceremony June 6 at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  Nominated for her feature role performance, Naja Hetzberger was honestly sincere as she offered, “Although I really DO want to win, I do hope the best for everyone running!”  Director Dooley firmly believes that, “We’ve really already won.”  She caringly reminds her cast that, “We were able to tell a story that inspired our audience to live their lives in full bloom!”

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