At the eighth annual Halo Awards, presented on May 25 by Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre, students, teachers and fans gathered to honor what may be the next crop of Broadway stars. Modeled after the Tony Awards, the Halo Awards celebrate excellence in high school theatre performances across the state, aiming to support student participation in the arts and bring high school and local communities together.
With nominations from 25 schools in 44 categories, the Halo Awards recognized individual and ensemble performances, as well as technical contributions like lighting and costume design. Tribute was also paid to specialty achievements, including a “Fearless Award,” for performances addressing complex material. In a nod to Broadway-style glamour, participants wore formal dresses and suits. The evening included a student reception and performances from 19 nominated shows, including “Officer Krupke” from “West Side Story”(Oxford High School), “Everybody Rejoice” from “The Wiz”(Watertown High School) and “Lonesome of the Road/Let Me Be a Kid” from “Runaways” (Torrington High School).
The awards ceremony has outgrown the Fine Arts Center at Naugatuck Valley Community College, moving this year to the larger Warner Theatre in Torrington. Kate Katcher, the program’s coordinator, said that she was “astonished” at the exceptional quality of all the 2011 performances, noting that it was a real treat to be able to watch from the wings at the Warner—something that wasn’t possible in the space at Naugatuck Valley.
Erin Stanley, Theatre Director at Stonington High School, credits the program’s success to its philosophy of accessibility and student empowerment: judges attend all productions that register, and vote on the same performances they see. Plays are considered in addition to musicals, and schools are not charged fees. Perhaps most importantly, only student work is nominated. Various student contributions from acting to choreography to sound design are considered, but nothing done by adults or professionals is eligible.
Katcher, who took over the program three years ago, said that what impresses her most about the students is, simply, the commitment. Students invest great amounts of time and work in order to get what amounts to an after-school project off the ground. Theatre “encourages creativity in students,” said Katcher, offering “so much to be gained in confidence and self-esteem.”
More information on the Halo Awards, including a complete list of winners, can be found on the Seven Angels Theatre website, www.sevenangelstheatre.org.