Newark High School recently walked away with 12 Elenbe awards at the 22nd annual Wayne County Performing Arts Celebration.
Nine awards relate to the fall drama production of “Charlotte’s Web”: best drama production, best actress to Anisha Stallworth as Charlotte, runner-up for best actor to Benjamin Cepulo as Wilbur, best supporting actress to Megan Cauwels as Edith Zuckerman/Narrator, best supporting actor to Ashton Keene as Gander/Announcer, runner-up for best supporting actress to Kelsie Bushart as Templeton, runner-up for best supporting actor to Ryan Hermanet as Avery Arable/Narrator, best original poster for a drama production to Olivia Bailey and best playbill for a drama production to Hermanet.
Three awards relate to the spring musical production of “Nice Work If You Can Get It”: best supporting actress to Cauwels as Dutchess Estonia Dulworth, best supporting actor to Jaston Brooks as Cookie McGee and best original poster for a musical production to Bailey.
“The Elenbe Awards always allows us to reflect on another great year of theater at NHS,” said Emily Howard, who directed both productions. “I know I speak for all of the production staff involved that we are immensely proud of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It.’ I am impressed every year that our students rise to whatever challenge I present.
“It was particularly gratifying to win best play for ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ This was a beautiful piece about friendship, acceptance and sacrifice that our cast and crew shared with audiences this fall. It was extra special because our sensory-friendly performance provided an opportunity for us to share the story with all audience members. It will certainly be a show Newark will always remember.”
Howard extended congratulations to the student winners.
“Kelsie Bushart took a ‘rat’ of a character and gave him heart,” Howard said. “She always finds ways to connect with others on stage.
“Megan Cauwels has been a leader on and off stage for Drama Club the past two years. She has a commanding presence, is a fearless performer and always eager to take direction.
“Ryan Hermenet is one of the hardest working actors I have, so it is fitting that he is also recognized for his contribution for creating and editing the playbill. Ryan brings his enthusiasm to everything he does.
“A first time performer, Ashton Keene really took this role and made it his own. He is never shy about digging in and wanting to develop a three-dimensional character.
“Another first time actor, Jaston Brooks brought lots of zip and energy to his role. He has a musical gift and worked especially hard on his tapping skills to bring Cookie to life.
“Anisha Stallworth found strength in the quietness of Charlotte, and served as a great axis for the rest of the barnyard characters to revolve around.
“Ben Cepulo brought the perfect blend of humility and sweetness that made Wilbur an endearing character that everyone roots for.
“Olivia Bailey stepped up as our artist-in-residence this year, lending her artistic hand to both poster designs and significant contributions to set painting. Olivia, who has also been a performer on stage, is the perfect example that Drama Club is for more than just performers. It was wonderful to see her art recognized.”
Elenbe Awards go to students and directors each spring involved in musical and dramatic productions at 10 schools in Wayne County. Judges are members of Wayne County Council for the Arts who attend every performance.
Before the awards presentation, five- to six-minute vignettes from the schools’ musical and dramatic productions were performed in the auditorium.
Don Alhart, 13-WHAM TV anchor, served as master of ceremonies for the 20th year. Robert Schick, CEO and chairman of Lyons Bancorp Inc. and Lyons National Bank, assisted with the awards presentation.
The Wayne County Performing Arts Awards Celebration program was founded by Robert Christmann, former superintendent for Newark Central School District. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
Lyons National Bank has funded this program in its entirety since the first year. The name of the award, The Elenbe, finds its source in the LNB letters representing Lyons National Bank.