Union County students up for number of Blumey Awards

by Eren Tataragasi

Marvin Ridge High School’s performance of ‘Urinetown’ earned students nine Blumey nominations. Winners will be announced May 20. Photo courtesy of Marvin Ridge

WAXHAW — Blumenthal Performing Arts holds its first ever Blumey Awards Ceremony May 20 at the Belk Theater, and Marvin Ridge and Cuthbertson High School theater students are representing Union County as nominees in a dozen categories, including best actor and best actress.

The Blumeys honors student actors for their work in high school musical theater performances, as well as the technical and design aspects of plays.

This year, Marvin Ridge expanded its horizons and put on a show most people wouldn’t expect to find in a high school theater, “Urinetown,” which earned them their nine Blumey nominations.
“Urinetown” is a satire about the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement and municipal politics.

Winston Sims, who is the theater teacher at Marvin Ridge, and director of “Urinetown,” said he picked the unconventional musical because he wanted to challenge his audience.

“A lot of people are not familiar with the show, and if they had not seen it, it takes some time to get past the title, but once they see it, they realize it’s a really good show and that’s one of the reasons I picked it,” Sims said.

Sims said the show has a lot of good roles for students and great characters, and four of those roles landed Marvin Ridge students as nominees in the category of best actor (John Pope), best actress (Jessica Arnold), best supporting actress (Ashley Chesler)and best featured performer (Jordan Yakowenko).

“They were very surprised,” Sims said. “When I told them they were nominated they were very shocked and we’re very honored to be recognized in such a way.”

And it’s a big deal for the students, too, as for three of them, it’s their last hurrah as they prepare to go off to college.

Arnold, Chesler and Emily Marlin, who received a nomination for best costume creation, are all headed to pursue theater in college next year.

“This show by itself was a great step for each of them, but to be nominated was an even better step,” Sims said. “It gave each of them more confidence in what they do.”

Marvin Ridge is also up for best overall direction, best choreography execution, best student orchestra and best lighting execution.

And in its third year, Cuthbertson High School has also made a name for itself with a number of Blumey nominations for its spring performance of the Disney classic, “Beauty and the Beast.”

Senior Tim Quinn, who played Beast, is up for best actor, and Taylor Neal, who played Belle is up for best actress.

The show is also up for best student orchestra, which is a big deal for the school since this was the first time the students were accompanied by a live orchestra.

“It was a new thing and it was exciting and scary at the same time,” said director Joy Hamilton.

Other awards the school is up for include best costume creation and best lighting execution.

Hamilton said “Beauty and the Beast” is a major production and she involved as many students as possible, including 10 eighth graders who were invited to be a part of the cast.

She also recruited students in art classes to help make props, technical theater students to help build the set, and more.

Hamilton said she’s excited her students are being recognized for their hard work.

“It just feels like validation for all of our hard work, to be honest,” Hamilton said. “It’s nice to work hard. And we don’t do it for awards, but to have someone come in and say ‘you did a good job’ that feels good.”

And as their teacher, Hamilton said she’s “extraordinarily proud.”

The Blumey Awards program ceremony will feature live performances by the six finalists for best musical, May 20 at 7 p.m. in the Belk Theater. Tickets are on sale and range from $30 to $45. Tickets are available at BlumenthalArts.org, 704-372-1000 or from the box office in the Belk Theater lobby, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.

For more information, visit blumenthalarts.org/blumeyawards.

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