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Lakeview Academy and Gainesville High School to participate in awards ceremony
Three area students nominated for statewide award
During the Shuler Awards, students are selected to be part of the ensemble perform an opening and closing act for the show. This is the opening act of the 2016 awards show at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta. Hall County students performing in this year’s ensemble April 20 are Grace Abee, Grace Cascone and Grayson Wagner. - photo by Courtesy of Ben Rose

Shuler Hensley Awards show
When: 7-9 p.m. April 20
Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta
TV channel: Georgia Public Broadcasting
More info:

On April 20, eight students from the Gainesville High School and Lakeview Academy will have a Hollywood experience like no other. They will attend the Shuler Hensley Awards at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.

The ceremony is the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards. They are modelled after the Tony Awards and named after Tony Award winner and Georgia native Shuler Hensley.

“It’s like the Oscars of high school musicals,” Lakeview Academy senior Jackson Pratt said. “If you’re nominated, you get to bring a date and walk on the red carpet.”

Pratt has attended the awards for the past three years as an audience member, but this is his first year being nominated. He was nominated for best leading actor for his role in “Big Fish.”

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Pratt said of his nomination. “I know some of the other people who were nominated, so it’s cool to be put on the same level as them.”

In addition, three other Hall County students were nominated for awards including: Lakeview’s Jerrod Abee for featured actor and Gainesville High School’s Jazmine Ellison for supporting actress and Ramiro Salinas for supporting actor. 

Students Grace Abee and Grace Cascone, both of Lakeview, and Grayson Wagner of Gainesville High School are part of the Shuler Student Ensemble, which performs an opening and closing act for the show.

“When I saw the ensemble last year perform, I wanted to do so badly,” Lakeview sophomore Grace Abee said. “Now, I get to experience it as a sophomore, and I’m really thankful and blessed I get to do this.”

GHS sophomore Grayson Wagner will be a feature dancer in the ensemble. After doing high school theater for two years and participating in theater with Pam Ware from a young age, Grayson said he is excited about the opportunity to perform at the awards show. It is televised live from 7-9 p.m. April 20 on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s nine stations.

More than 100 actors and actresses from across the state will make up the student ensemble. The ensemble will begin rehearsals Saturday, April 15.  A professional team that includes Shuler Hensley will teach the students the routines.

“I love to participate in as many numbers as possible,” Wagner said.

Army Castillo of Lakeview Academy will be a part of the S.T.A.R. (Students Take a Role) Council. All students participating in the S.T.A.R. Council were nominated by their directors. This part of the awards gives students who participate in the technical side of theater a chance to experience and be a part of the television production from behind the scenes.

These students aren’t the only ones participating, however.

Gainesville’s ensemble in “Fame the Musical” was nominated for best ensemble, and Lakeview’s “Big Fish” was nominated for overall production. Because of these nominations, the cast and crew will attend the awards and the cast will perform a number from the musical.

Pratt also will participate in a medley with other nominees in his category. Each will sing a two-minute song from their nominated musical.

“We’ll all be on stage at the same time, and we’ll switch off songs,” Pratt said. “We’ll all be in character the whole time.”

While the awards are designed to be a night of fun and celebration, participating students hope to take away something from the experience.

Abee wants to gain advice from directors and upperclassmen on how to improve. Pratt, however, hopes to broaden his horizons.

“I hope to gain perspective with other shows and see what else is out there,” Pratt said. “I’m excited to meet new people and see others perform.”

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