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Performers return for Ray of Light Award ceremony

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Members of of Muncy High School present "Merry Old Land of Oz" from "The Wizard of Oz" during the Ray of Light Awards at the Community Arts Center Saturday.

Mamma Mia. Here we go again.

High school thespians from around the area gathered at the Community Arts Center on Saturday afternoon to take to the stage one more time this musical season during the Community Theatre League Ray of Light Awards ceremony, live for the first time since 2019.

“Theatre is the single most important activity for creating leaders in everyday lives,” Olivia Weaver said while accepting the Andree P. Phillips Leadership in the Arts Award.

Nancy Butts, who presented the award, explained that it goes to an extraordinary student who is typically the first to arrive at rehearsal and the last to leave, leading extra dance rehearsals and building sets on a Saturday afternoon.

Weaver also won Outstanding Student Design for the choreography for “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” for Shikellamy Area High School.

The fourteenth annual Ray of Light Awards featured many of the beloved awards from past years, but also included new ones, such as the Logan Garrett Memorial Scholarship, presented by his parents Heather and Paul Garrett.

Logan was the 2020 Ray of Light winner for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play for his performance in Jersey Shore Area High School’s production of “The Uninvited.”

“I’d like to thank the Community Theatre League for choosing our son for the name of the scholarship,” Paul said.

Tyler Borthwick, from Central Columbia High School, won the award.

“I hope the scholarship touches others the way Logan touched others with his performances,” Borthwick said.

The award announcements were broken up with musical performances from the participating schools. Seniors from the area schools danced to “I Just Want To Dance With You,” from “The Prom: A New Musical” which was the final performance of the night and their final performance as Ray of Light participants.

As the actors sang, “All it takes is you and me and a song.”

The biggest trophy of the night was presented for the Ray Phillips Memorial Award for Best Drama Program.

“Ray of Light is near and dear to my heart,” said presenter Andree Phillips. “It is a celebration of drama and theatre.”

The award goes to a school that puts on both a play and a musical and has the highest overall combined scores from the judges. This year’s winner was Shikellamy High School for its performances of “Clue: On Stage” and “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.”

The Jason J Moyer Award for Excellence goes to the runner-up of the Ray Phillips Memorial Award for Best Drama Program. Montoursville Area High School won for their performances of “Clue: On Stage” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

Clue was the popular play of the year, as Shikellamy, Montoursville and Muncy Jr./Sr. High School all performed it. Each school was featured in a slideshow of pictures from their show. When Muncy presented theirs, the announcers explained that for the second year in the row, “Clue: On Stage” was the most popular high school play performed throughout the country, drawing laughs from the audience.

Winners throughout the night thanked their parents and family, their cast and crew and the teachers who helped them perform, many of whom were in the audience cheering for them. Some of the actors wore fancy outfits, while others were dressed for their musical number performances.

“I didn’t expect to accept an award in a leather jacket, but here we are,” said Hannah Garinger as she accepted the Outstanding Musical Performance in a Supporting Female Role. She won for Shikellamy High School’s show of “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical,” where she played the roles of Sally Jackson, Clarisse and Charon. She was dressed as Clarisse for their medley number.

Also accepting an award for Shikellamy High School was Thomas Bennick, who won the Outstanding Dramatic Performance in a Supporting Male Role.

“This is one of the best experiences of my life,” Bennick said. The award was for his role as Mr. Green in “Clue: On Stage.”

As Leslie Krebs accepted the Outstanding Musical Performance in a Leading Female Role for playing Donna in “Mamma Mia,” with Milton Area High School, she announced that she was speechless.

“For the first time in my life, I don’t have anything to say,” Krebs said.

She went on to thank her parents for listening to her hum Mamma Mia tunes for three months and her cast and crew for lifting her up, literally during one of the numbers.

Milton Area High School also won Outstanding Achievement in Vocal Production.

While the cast of a play or musical is sure to get noticed, often it is the people behind the scenes making sure everything goes well.

Loyalsock Township High School won the Outstanding Achievement in Backstage Crew for their production of “Mary Poppins.” They also won the Outstanding Achievement in Choreography.

Elaina Bartley also brought home an award for Loyalsock Township High School. She won the Outstanding Musical Performance in a Featured Role for her part of Mrs. Brill.

The audience participated throughout the night by cheering for nominees, clapping along with musical numbers and even shedding a few tears.

“Mom, if you’re crying, please don’t,” Tridaija Alvarez said as she accepted the Outstanding Dramatic Performance in a Leading Female Role for her performance of Nikki Crandall in “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” at Milton Area High School.

Outstanding Dramatic Performance in a Leading Male Role went to Austin Cummings, who played Wadsworth in “Clue: On Stage” for Montoursville Area High School.

“I believe that how we perform as actors is a product of our environment,” Cummings said. He thanked those who helped him succeed, saying that the award was as much theirs as it was his. “I am keeping the award though.”

Thomas Huckans said, “It really takes an entire community to put on a show like this.” He accepted the award for Outstanding Musical Performance in a Leading Male Role for his performance of Nick Bottom in “Something Rotten!” from Central Columbia High School.

Bronze Medal Recognition for a dramatic performance went to Angel Maisonette, from Shikellamy High School, and Simon Uhter, from Loyalsock Township High School. Bronze Medal Recognition for a musical performance went to Naomi Alexander, Montoursville Area High School; Sophie Bittenbender, Williamsport Area High School; Maria Blas, Loyalsock Township High School; Tyler Borthwick, Central Columbia High School; John Nicholas, Loyalsock Township High School; Alexa Rice, Muncy Jr/Sr High School; Kate Richards, Loyalsock Township High School; Carter Rogers, Muncy Jr/Sr HIgh School; and Chloe Russell, Milton Area High School.

Silver Medal Recognition for a dramatic performance went to Elaina Bartley, Loyalsock Township High School, and Olivia Weaver, Shikellamy High School. Silver medal recognition for a musical performance went to Adam Fox, Jersey Shore Area High School; Amber Hakes, Williamsport Area High School; Kaidyn Rogers, Central Mountain High School; and Lanie Mussina, Montoursville Area High School.

Fox also received the only Gold Medal Recognition. Since he also co-hosted the event, he stayed on stage after accepting his award and presented the Outstanding Achievement in Lighting and Sound to Milton Area High School for Mamma Mia.

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