Two of Wilton’s High School stage productions were recognized at the Halo awards this week. The Halo Awards honors high school students’ achievements in all aspects of theatre. Over 60 high schools from across the State of Connecticut participated in the 16th Annual Halo Awards this year!
The Fall play ‘Witness for the Prosecution’, based on the Agatha Christie play, directed by Kevin Slater, sets by Christian Planton, produced and costumed by Marty Kozlowski. The play won the award for Best Performance by a cast in an Ensemble production. It was also nominated for:
- Best Costumes -Peyton Matik
- Best Specialty Ensemble - Nick Furst, Lily Mikita, Andrew Tsantilas, Alex Meyers, Olivia Vitarelli
- Best Performance by a Couple or Dynamic Duo in a Play Nick Furst, Lily Mikita
- Best Male Standout in an Ensemble Production - Nick Furst
- Best Classical Play.
The spring musical, directed by Meredith Walker, produced and costumed by Marty Kozlowski, sets by Christian Planton, was nominated for eight Halo Awards and won the prestigious Best Musical award. Other nominations were for:
- Best Performance by a leading actress in a musical – Sarah Bates
- Best Performance by a featured actor in a musical - Michael Biondo as Crutche
- Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical - Jack Parrotta as Jack Kelly
- Best Performance By a Supporting Actor in a musical – Ryan Lynn as Davey
- Best Featured Dancers - Jessica Olin, Olivia Vitarelli, Quinn Lupton, Jenna Bonafide, Emma Driver, Abby Seaman, Sasha Sypher & Taylor White.
- Best Orchestra
- Best Dancing
This is the first year that Wilton High School spring musical has been eligible for consideration in the Halo awards. This is because the musical is performed very late in the school year. This year, the Halo award committee extended the eligibility window to allow Wilton to compete for the awards, which are the High School equivalent of the Tony Awards. Monday, June 3 saw a bus full of excited WHS students attend the event at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.
The Halo awards are the cherry on the top for producer and artistic director Marty Kozlowski who is retiring from the school district this year after over 23 years of working on productions for the High School. She is so proud of the achievements of the students and will miss her Wilton theater family when she relocates to North Carolina next year. She strongly believes that there is a place in the theater for all kids who want to participate. Ms. Kozlowski encourages kids to ‘Just give it a try! I’ve seen many shy kids get bitten by the bug and then blossom and become a part of our Theater family’.
Speaking of the Halo awards, Kozlowski said ‘It was so exciting; it was a huge honor to be recognized in this way. As well as awards, nominees get to perform, we opened the show with a number from Newsies’. On winning two awards, she reported ‘Winning Best Ensemble in a play was a huge win, since it was for the overall production and all the kids involved. Then when the award for Best Musical was announced, the kids were ecstatic, they all flew out of their seats and charged the stage to accept the award. Best Musical was the grand finale of the evening, we'd been holding our breath all night to see how it would go.’
Newsies cast member and nominee for Best Performance by a leading actress in a musical – Sarah Bates had this to say about the night ‘The energy on the bus on the way there and especially on the way back was completely electric, everyone felt like celebrities, complete with formal dress. Watching the other groups perform was fantastic because of how supportive everyone was of each other.’ On learning that Newsies had won best Musical, she said ‘People were screaming, laughing and crying. The collective energy was so high that everyone ran up the stairs and onto the stage while still clinging to each other. Right in that moment, we were one family, holding each other up and so loving and supportive of each other’
No two productions are ever the same and the theater department relies on a dedicated network of parents, students and alumni to put on the shows each year. Newsies needed two dance choreographers and a fight choreographer ‘A lot of times my old students come back and are my loyal helpers, the fight choreographer was a school alumnus’. Ms. Kozlowski feels that the kids really connected with this play and gave it their all, something that fills her with gratitude. ‘They were off the charts with enthusiasm and energy for this production’
The Theater program was recognized last week by the Wilton Board of Education in their ‘Salute to Excellence’ award. Ms.Kozlowski received a standing ovation from students and board members as she accepted the award on behalf of the department. Superintendent Kevin Smith spoke of the high quality, exemplary programs that the department runs as he thanked her for all the work she has done in support of our students over years.