UPDATED: MHS Theater Program Awarded for Spring Musical

The high school was recognized for its efforts to include students with disabilities in the spring production of "The Wedding Singer."

 (MHS) was honored recently for its at an awards ceremony recognizing high school musicals statewide.

The high school was up for three awards at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards last Tuesday in Millburn. Most notably, the school was the sole recipient of the “Theater For Everyone” Inclusion and Access Award, which recognizes schools that provide opportunities for students (and audiences) with disabilities to perform and participate in productions.

This year, the spring musical included the efforts of students in the freshman/sophomore Life Skills class, taught by special education teacher Kim Warren. The students, to correspond with their vocational training, created silk floral bouquets and arrangements for use in several scenes of the production, as well as fresh flower bouquets for sale at intermission, and assisted in flower sales at the performances. This effort was organized and coordinated by costume designer and president Georgean Wardzinski, and Joan Kindsfather, a parent volunteer, with the assistance of the school’s paraprofessional staff, student volunteers and other volunteers involved with MoorArts.

Wardzinski said the effort was a collaboration between the school and MoorArts, which is composed of artists and parents who "believe that the arts is for everybody."

"It really broke down a lot of barriers for these kids," she said. "It was exciting we can take (the award) back to the the kids ... That's what made it special for me."

To make the show accessible, high school American Sign Language interpreters Steve Rogina and Kathy Boyer provided an interpreted performance for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on closing night, and a free matinee was scheduled to include senior citizens and special needs individuals. Christine Kienzle, a parent volunteer, organized attendance from regional senior and assisted living facilities, as well as groups from area churches. Free snacks, donated by the Moorestown Education Association, were provided to the audience in the auditorium to account for any mobility issues.

As recipient of the “Theater for Everyone” award, Moorestown was presented with a $1,000 check.

Senior Lauren Finch was one of 10 students in the state honored with the Student Achievement Award for her hard work and dedication as hair and makeup mistress on The Wedding Singer. Finch was responsible for research, organizing schedules, and supervising student and adult workers in the execution of period-appropriate hair and makeup styles for six performances.

And senior Alex Loftus was one of seven students nominated for Best Featured Performance for her portrayal of Linda, the self-centered ex-fiancé of the show’s protagonist.

“These nominations and awards are a testament to the hard work, dedication and partnership of our students, parents, staff and administration in creating a strong theater program at Moorestown High School,” said theater director Greg Harr. “It is exciting to be recognized on a state level for what our community has known for many years. We look forward to continuing our tradition of excellence.”

Last year's spring musical at MHS, Anything Goes, was one of seven nominated for Best Hair and Makeup Design at the Rising Star Awards.

The Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards, presented by the Investors Foundation, are modeled after the Tony Awards and Paper Mill Playhouse's program serves the entire state, with nearly 100 entered productions from public, private and parochial high schools.

The Moorestown High School Spring Musical staff consists of Harr (MHS social studies teacher), vocal director Kristen Conrad (MHS choral teacher), choreographer Dann Dunn, orchestra conductor Greg Connlain (community member), costume/hair and makeup designer Georgean Wardzinski (parent, community member), scenic designer Brian Froonjian, lighting designer Dee Dugan(community member), sound designer Fred Binter (community member), and business manager Julia Ranson (MHS fine arts teacher).

Next year's Moorestown High School Theater shows are Our Town (fall) and Legally Blonde (spring). 

- Information provided by the Moorestown High School Theater Department


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