NHS, Hesston pick up Jester nominations

Chad Frey
The Newton High School theater department’s fall production of “Into the Woods” was one of 10 productions recently nominated for best overall production in Music Theatre Wichita’s Jester Awards. [KANSAN FILE]

The Newton High School theater department’s fall production of “Into the Woods” is one of 10 productions nominated for best overall production in the 2019-20 Music Theatre Wichita’s Jester Awards.

In 2002, Music Theatre Wichita launched a program called the Jester Awards to honor excellence in high school musical theatre.

In addition, Francie Robu (“Little Red Riding Hood”), is a nominee for best supporting actress.

The performance of “Ever After” is nominated for best production number.

Amy Ives, of Newton High School, is nominated for orchestra direction and vocal music direction.

Clara Rowe (stage management), of Newton High School, is nominated for technical achievement. Madyson Groves and Grace Clayton were nominated for costume design. Lyric Douglas was nominated for lighting design. Emma Kliewer was nominated for sound design.

Mario Murillo (Jojo) is nominated as best pre-high school performer for his role in Hesston High School’s production of “Seussical.” Josh Shirley, Drew Hiebert, Lucas Roth and Ben Roth (Wickersham Brothers) are nominated for small ensemble for their performance in “Seussical.” Darren Ennis is nominated for choreography/staging.

This year, the awards ceremony will be online.

The Jester Awards Ceremony will be viewable online at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 3. To join the free broadcast, sign up for MTWichita emails at mtwichita.org, or follow on Facebook to get a link and password.

Honorees in 25 categories will be announced during the ceremony, hosted by award-winning Wichita theatre artists Rachel Downs and Steve Hitchcock. Scholarship awards will be presented to three students, lead male and female honorees and a technical theatre recipient. Ongoing support for the program is provided by founder Belden Mills and his wife, Anna, and the Lois K. Walls Jester Fund at MTWichita.

Continuing a competition element begun in 2019, each of the Leading Actor and Leading Actress nominees will be featured in special solo performances, adjudicated by a team of professional judges. At the end of the broadcast, the two top recipients will be announced and awarded their cash scholarships.

Since the inception of the Jester Awards, trained volunteer judges have been attending and evaluating dozens of performances across Kansas, and the judges’ scoring has determined the award recipients in two dozen categories. This year, 46 judges viewed 144 performances of 48 productions, involving more than 3,000 students and extending as far as Liberal, Hays, Salina, Pittsburg and Topeka, in addition to the greater Wichita area.