Why one Austinite is rooting for ‘Come From Away’ on Tony Awards night

You might have already caught this story on another American-Statesman page.

READ FULL STORY HERE.

But since this blog is called Arts in Austin, we thought we share a bit from this compelling 9/11 story that led to a book, a musical and an initiative that encourages random acts of kindness.

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The Broadway cast of “Come From Away.” Contributed by Matthew Murphy
Austinite Kevin Tuerff will be watching the Tony Awards ceremony very closely on June 11: He is a character in “Come From Away.”

That’s right. He is portrayed as Kevin T in the hit musical about Gander, a Canadian town that showed great kindness to thousands of airline passengers — including Tuerff — stranded there on 9/11.

The show has been nominated for seven Tony Awards, including best musical.

“Having a doppelganger on Broadway is crazy and surreal,” says Tuerff, who has retired from EnviroMedia, a green-themed Austin marketing company that he co-founded. “I never thought that my experience being one of 7,000 stranded passengers in Gander would end up on the Broadway stage, or that I would walk out on that stage to receive a standing ovation during a Broadway opening.”

WATCH: The Tony Awards will air at 7 p.m. June 11 on CBS.

Arts ringleader Paul Beutel to retire from the Long Center

After more than four decades as an arts leader wearing countless hats, Paul Beutel has announced that he will retire from the Long Center for the Performing Arts on June 30.

A respected actor and singer, Beutel also reviewed movies and theater for the American-Statesman, worked as marketing director for what is now Texas Performing Arts, served as director, producer and presenter at the Paramount Theatre for almost two decades, ran Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, and wound up his career as senior programming manager at the Long Center.

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Longtime arts leader Paul Beutel to retire. Contributed

“It’s hard for me to believe that I have been working in this wonderful and crazy business for 42 years, the last eight-plus years at the Long Center,” says Beutel. “It’s even harder for me to believe that at the end of the month, I will celebrate my 67th birthday. Thus, it seems like a good time to bring the curtain down on this phase of my life and retire.”

I first spotted Beutel onstage in “Carnival” at TUTS in Houston in the early 1970s. He was already a fixture in the Austin arts scene when I arrived in 1984. He was especially good at booking shows with undeniable entertainment value and populist appeal. Beutel also played a major role in the long tenure of the “Greater Tuna” plays, for instance, and Austin Musical Theatre at the Paramount. He also nurtured the theater’s still popular summer classic movie series.

RELATED: Jaston Williams cooks up another bit of ‘Greater Tuna.’ Jaston Williams cooks up another bit of ‘Greater Tuna.’

Helming the Paramount through stormy financial waters, Beutel was always known as a passionate advocate but also a straight shooter who didn’t dodge hard questions from the press.

He has held several positions at the Long Center, including interim executive director from 2010 to 2011. He was also instrumental in amplifying the center’s educational programs through events such as the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards.

RELATED: All rise for Austin high school musicals!

“I can’t thank Paul enough for his years of service to both the Long Center and the greater performing arts field,” says the center’s director and CEO Cory Baker. “He is truly a legend and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside him in Austin. The Long Center would not be the organization it is today without his dedication, passion and remarkable instinct. We expect to still see Paul around often as he will always be a member of our family.”

Beutel’s retirement plans include “catching up on approximately 125 DVDs and having a cocktail or two with the many friends I’ve made in this business over the years.”

UPDATED: In Houston, Beutel operated Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Zach Theatre actor joins the Brotherhood of Barbra Streisand in NYC

What do you get as a gift for playwright Jonathan Tolins, who wrote the comic solo turn, “Buyer and Cellar,” to toast his honors at the Drama Desk Awards earlier this week?

Zach Theatre sent the star of its staging, J. Robert Moore, to New York to help surprise Tolins with as many actors as could be found who have played Alex, the show’s pivotal character, around the country.

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At the Drama Desk Awards, actors from around the country who have played Alex in ‘Buyer and Cellar’ surprised its playwright Jonathan Tolins. Among them was Zach Theatre performer J. Robert Moore, fourth from the left, who stands next to the playwright, third from left. Contributed

The character staffs a shopping mall that Barbra Streisand has created in her basement to store her collections of antiques, dolls, clothing and so forth. It’s more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

REVIEW: Zach Theatre’s “Buyer and Cellar” gabs about Babs.

Among the familiar actors who have played Alex is Michael Urie, best known for his portrayal of Marc St. James on “Ugly Betty.” Social tidbit from the awards show: Moore says Urie is amazingly warm.

“How funny to perform in a show completely alone, and then to suddenly become a part of a family of actors who have all done the same show across the country,” Moore writes. “It was thrilling for a musical theater kid like me to see some of Broadway’s legends at the awards, and to actually speak with them at the after party! We are calling our group: ‘The Brotherhood of Barbra.’ I hope she approves!”

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J. Robert Moore with Michael Urie at the Drama Desk Awards. Contributed

UPDATE: The last name of Jonathan Tolins has been updated.

Giving City toasts Austin Critics Table Awards

If you missed the short history of the Austin Critics Table Awards written by Monica Maldonado Williams of Giving City and published in Sunday’s American-Statesman, below find a snippet. The free awards ceremony returns 7 p.m. June 5 at Cap City Comedy Club.

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The Austin Critics Table in in 1995. L-R: John Bustin, Barry Pineo, Michael Barnes, Jamie Smith Cantara, Belinda Acosta, David Mark Cohen, Jerry Conn and Robert Faires. (Bustin and Cohen are deceased.) Mark Fort/American-Statesman

FULL STORY:  At 25 years old, an arts awards event learns to adapt.

“While almost all Austin arts organizations operate as nonprofits, the caliber of the art has become more professional and innovative, said co-founder Robert Faires. To reflect the range of art, this year’s Critics Table judges have adjusted the categories to make them less theater-heavy.

“There’s more diversity among the artists and the art forms in Austin, but this is not just a participation award,” said David Wyatt, a long-time volunteer for the event and the owner of a public relations agency that specializes in the art organizations. “Artists have to wait years to the point where they’ve developed their craft and matured as an artists to get recognized. It’s very meaningful.”

RELATED: See this year’s nominees for the Austin Critics Table Awards.

“In addition to adjusting the categories, Faires has had to adjust the roster of judges. As the last of the founders participating, he realized that the awards should include the new breed of art writers, especially those who publish primarily online. This year’s judges include writers from websites and blogs like Broadway World Austin, Austin Entertainment Weekly, Arts & Culture Texas, and Conflict of Interest TX.”

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Monica Maldonado Williams. Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

BACKGROUND: Monica Maldonado Williams cracks the charity code.

Behold: The 2017 Austin Critics Table Awards nominees

More than two decades ago, a half dozen ink-stained wretches sat down over obligatory martinis at a 24-hour deli to honor Austin artists. Thus was born the Austin Critics Table Awards, which return to Cap City Comedy Club on Monday, June 5.

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During the intervening years, artists, critics and award categories have come and gone. One constant: Robert Faires. The Austin Chronicle arts editor has shaped the awards in his image: generous, omnivorous and witty.  He’s always been as well the diligent note taker and records keeper for the disparate group of staff and freelance critics.

I retired from the Table — named after our usual meeting spot at Katz’s on West Sixth Street — many years ago when my wider wanderings led me to write about Austin’s people, places, culture and history.

I remained, however, passionately loyal to the arts. And more recently, I’ve written quite a few arts news and features stories. It’s important to emphasize, however, that I am no longer a critic. To be sure, opinion informs my reporting, but you won’t find any recent reviews under my byline in our archives.

It gives me considerable pleasure, then, to share with our readers the work of those staff and freelance reviewers which today culminates in the 2017 nominations for the Austin Critics Table Awards:
THEATRE
Production
Buyer and Cellar, Zach Theatre
Clybourne Park, Penfold Theatre
The Drowning Girls, Theatre en Bloc
The Great Society, Zach Theatre
Hand to God, Capital T Theatre
The Hotel Vanya, or A Metaphysical-Paradigm at the End of Everythingness, Natalie George Productions
Lungs, Hyde Park Theatre
Nevermore, the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Doctuh Mistuh Productions
Song About Himself, Capital T Theatre
The Totalitarians, Theatre en Bloc

Direction
Ann Ciccolella, Old Times
Lindsay Doleshal, Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Katie Green, The Shift
Nathan Jerkins, Clybourne Park
Jenny Larson, With Great Difficulty Alice Sits
Jenny Lavery, The Drowning Girls
Mark Pickell, Song About Himself
Rudy Ramirez, A Perfect Robot
Dave Steakley, The Great Society
Lily Wolff, Lungs

David Mark Cohen New Play Award
Dust, Nicole Oglesby
A Girl Named Sue, Christine Hoang
The Hotel Vanya, or A Metaphysical-Paradigm at the End of Everythingness, Timothy Braun
A Perfect Robot, Sarah Saltwick
The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Allen Robertson & Damon Brown
Underground, Lisa Thompson
With Great Difficulty Alice Sits, Hannah Kenah
Wraith Radio, Chris Fontanes

Ensemble
Atlantis, A Puppet Opera, Ethos, with the Vortex
Clybourne Park, Penfold Theatre
The Drowning Girls, Theatre en Bloc
The Great Society, Zach Theatre
Neva, Theatre en Bloc
Nevermore, the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Doctuh Mistuh Productions
Old Times, Austin Shakespeare
The World According to Snoopy, Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance

Acting
Liz Beckham, Lungs/Neva/Clybourne Park
Chase Brewer, Hand to God
Jay Byrd, Hir
Barbara Chisholm, The Totalitarians
Jacqui Cross, For the Love of Mahalia
Sarah Danko, A Perfect Robot
Lana Dieterich, John
Bridget Farr, Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Judd Farris, Trevor
Joey Hood, W.
Michael Joplin, Lungs
J. Robert Moore, Buyer & Cellar
Marc Pouhé, Death of a Salesman/Underground
Amber Quick, One Man, Two Guv’nors/Charlotte’s Web/The Herd
Cecil Washington, Jr., The Great Society
DESIGN
Set
Theada Bellenger, The Addams Family
Chris Conard, The Totalitarians/The Drowning Girls
Ia Ensterä, Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Lisa Laratta, Poor Herman
Mark Pickell, Hir/Hand to God/John
Desiderio Roybal, Clybourne Park/The Price/The Herd
Court Watson, One Man, Two Guv’nors

Costume
Susan Branche Towne, One Man, Two Guv’nors/The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Jennifer Davis, Wolf Hall/Pride and Prejudice
E. L. Hohn, In the Red and Brown Water
Barry Doss, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Lighting
Jason Amato, Atlantis: A Puppet Opera
Patrick Anthony, A Perfect Robot/Old Times
Don Day, John
Kate Ducey, The Drowning Girls
Kathryn Eader, The Manchurian Candidate
Natalie George, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui/11:11/Potential
Natalie George & Sadie Langenkamp, Riverside
Stephen Pruitt, More or Less/One Step at a Time/”panning_memory”
Alex Soto, Radiance
Scott Vandenberg, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees

Sound
Lowell Bartholomee, Clybourne Park/Fahrenheit 451
David DeMaris, A Perfect Robot
Robert Fisher, The Hotel Vanya
William Meadows, Radiance
Bill Mester, The Manchurian Candidate

Digital
Ana Baer, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Lowell Bartholomee, Fahrenheit 451
Greg Emetaz, The Manchurian Candidate
Eliot Gray Fisher, A Perfect Robot
DANCE
Concert
4×3, Performa/Dance
2016 Fall Dance Festival, Chaddick Dance Theater
Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees, Sharon Marroquin, produced by Latino Art
Residency Project, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
More or Less, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Co.
One Step at a Time: A Journey Toward Present Grace, Tapestry Dance
Radiance, Blue Lapis Light

Short Work
“Black is the New Black,” Oluwaseun Samuel Olayiwola
“Camille: A Story of Art and Love,” Jennifer Hart
“Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter,” Lisa Nicks
“panning_memory,” Jennifer Sherburn
“Planets,” Michelle Thompson Ulerich
“Slowness,” Jun Shen
“Tikling(bird),” Alexa Capareda

Choreographer
Acia Gray, “Jazz Voices”/“Hourglass”/“Time”/“Listen”
Kathy Dunn Hamrick, More or Less/The Four (Three) Seasons/“Salud”
Sally Jacques, Radiance
Jennifer Hart, Camille: A Story of Art and Love
Sharon Marroquin, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Lisa Nicks, “Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter”
Kate Warren, Change Without Change

Dancer
Jeremy Arnold, Listen – With Ears Wide Open
Ellen Bartel, “Ocean”/Potential
Alexa Capareda, “Tikling(bird)”/Loose Gravel
Alyson Dolan, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees/The Four (3) Seasons/The Bowie Project/Potential
Lisa Anne Kobdish, More or Less/Potential/“Salud”
Sharon Marroquin, Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Amy Morrow, Hiraeth/“We’ve Been Here Before”/Save Our Spaces Second Line March
Oren Porterfield, Camille: A Story of Art and Love/To China with Love
Andrea Torres, Listen – With Ears Wide Open

Ensemble
Ballet Austin, To China with Love/Belle Redux
Cast of Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees
Dance Repertory Theatre, Momentum
Frank Wo/Men Collective, Loose Gravel
Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company,  More or Less
CLASSICAL MUSIC
Concert/Opera
Autumn Song, Conspirare
The Flying Dutchman, Austin Opera
Mahler: Symphony No. 6, Austin Symphony Orchestra
The Manchurian Candidate, Austin Opera
Rule of Three, Austin Symphony Orchestra
Symphonic Follies, Austin Symphony Orchestra

Chamber Performance
Drumming, line upon line percussion, for Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company’s More or Less
I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes, Living Paper Song Project
Sacred Shadows, Ensemble VIII
Schumann Chamber Players, Austin Chamber Music Festival

Original Composition/Score
Have a Good Day, Kathryn Mishell
Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, Graham Reynolds & Lagaritas Tiradas al Sol
The Passive-Aggressive’s Guide to Mother Goose, Ross Crean
Problems, Rain Nox
String Quartet No. 4, Yevgeniy Sharlat
Potential, line upon line percussion

Singer
Donnie Ray Albert, The Manchurian Candidate/I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes
Liz Cass, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance
Julia di Fiore, The Passive-Aggressive’s Guide to Mother Goose
Brenda Harris, The Manchurian Candidate
David Adam Moore, The Manchurian Candidate
Stefanie Moore, Autumn Song
Tim O’Brien, LOLA@4th Tap: January
Kathlene Ritch, Autumn Song
Paul Sanchez, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance/A Christmas Carol

Ensemble
Conspirare
Ensemble VIII
line upon line percussion
Schumann Chamber Players
VISUAL ART
Solo Gallery Exhibition
“Ana Esteve Lloren: Studies for Future Objects,” Women & Their Work Gallery
“Lauren Moya Ford: New Hands on Old World Flowers,” Big Medium
“Liz Rodda: Heat Loss,” Women & Their Work Gallery
“Low Down: New Works On Paper by Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz,” Not Gallery
“Scorch and Drag: Prints and Sculptures by John Robert Craft,” Flatbed Gallery
“Tammie Rubin: Before I Knew You, I Missed You,” de stijl | PODIUM FOR ART
“Tania Mouraud: Everyday Ogres,” UT Visual Arts Center

Group Gallery Exhibition
“ANTHROPOCENE: Jonas Hart, Dameon Lester & Melissa Loop,” grayDUCK Gallery
“Femme National(e): Audrey Brown, Christina Coleman, Kasumi Chow / Desiree Michelle Espada, Emmy Laursen, Juliana Isabel Ramirez,” Pump Project
“Figure/Heads: David Bae and Erin Cunningham,” ICOSA Collective Gallery
“The First Horizons of Juno: Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang and Chantal Wnuk,” MASS Gallery
“March ON!” Christian-Greene Gallery at the Warfield Center
“One/Sixth,” de stijl | PODIUM FOR ART
“Textscape,” Co-Lab Projects DEMO Gallery,

Independent Project
“FinalCon,” Museum of Human Achievement, Ink Tank, Dys/Mem, Drew Paryzer, and Gwar
Spam’s, The Internet Diner, Museum of Human Achievement, Rachel Stuckey, curator
This is Hardcore, Sean Ripple
Workout With Erica Nix, Erica Nix
XYZ Atlas, Jennifer Chenoweth

Gallery, Body of Work
Co-Lab Projects DEMO Gallery
Flatbed Complex
Museum of Human Achievement
Not Gallery
Pump Project

Artist
Cliona Gunter
Amy Hauft
Beili Liu
Sean Ripple
Deborah Roberts

UPDATE: Four people will be inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame: Zell Miller III (theater, spoken word); Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith of Flatbed Press (visual arts); and Kate Warren (dance).

I want to see virtually every show in Texas Performing Arts’ next season

Nine years ago, I told Kathy Panoff, then incoming director of Texas Performing Arts, that she was a “firecracker.” Well, she’s still lighting up the sky.

Tonight on the Bass Concert Hall stage at the University of Texas, she sent up blazing bottle rockets for her group’s 2017-2018 season, and I want to see virtually ever show on the bill.

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Start off, as almost everybody does, with its Broadway in Austin partnership. I’ll sign up right now for “Rent,” “The King and I,” “Finding Neverland,” “School of Rock,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” “The Book of Mormon” and “An American in Paris.”

Yes, even “Rent,” which I’ve grown to love over the past 20 years, mostly because of a Texas State University version with — thank you! — age-appropriate actors. Hello!

And guess what? If you don’t sign up for the 2017-2018 season, forget getting tickets to “Hamilton” the next season. The Broadway series already has added 3,000 new subscribers in anticipation.

RELATED: Broadway smash “Hamilton” coming to Austin in 2018-2019 season.

At the top of my list from the non-Broadway season are three cabaret shows: Storm Large & Le Bonheur, Ute Lemper’s “Last Tango in Berlin” and Seth Rudetsky‘s “Deconstructing Broadway.” It’s like Broadway, too, but refined to the nth degree.

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I was also very much attracted to the dance groups: Che Malambo (“Machismo in a jar”), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ezralow Dance’s “Open” and Abraham.In.Motion‘s “Live! The Realest MC.” Two I’ve seen before, the other two sizzled in projected videos.

Of the musical selections, I am jazzed to see the Philip Glass Ensemble play “Koyaanisqatsi” live — my first Glass back in 1982 — and Chanticleer doing “Soldier.”

Playing to my jazz affections are Kurt Elling with the SwinglesMonty Alexander Harlem-Kinston Express. 

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Also on the bill are Spanish BrassDover Quartet, Sergei Babayan, Sergio & Odair, guitars and Avi Avital, mandolin, the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and University of Texas Jazz Orchestra with Conrad Herwig — along some hybrid shows, such as Fifth House Ensemble performing music from the game “Journey” live as it is played and “Musical Thrones: A Parody.”

Straight theater has not been forgotten: “The Crucible” and “Sancho: An Act of Remembrance.”

How am I going to see all this? I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Austin-linked ‘Anastasia’ opens on Broadway, while ‘Fun Home’ heads to Austin

If you haven’t been following the Facebook threads of Marc and Carolyn Seriff, you’re missing this Austin duo’s take on producing a Broadway musical. Marc, co-founder of America Online and for a short time, head of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, is, along with his wife Carolyn, a longtime backer of local arts groups. They are in New York for three months because they are co-producers of a lavish production of Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally‘s “Anastasia,” originally an animated movie, which opened last night on Broadway.

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Ramin Karimloo and Christy Altomare. Contributed by Matthew Murphy

There are other Austin connections that we’ll flesh out later, including Texas-born McNally’s papers at the Ransom Center and previous versions of his works at Zach Theatre. We urged the Austin couple to keep a journal of their Broadway adventures. Here’s a snippet from Marc’s post today:

“Have to be really honest here and say that tonight was full of mixed emotions.

“First the good (and most important) — from where I sat, ‘Anastasia’ is one of the best musicals to come along in a while. It was Broadway with a capital ‘B’ with no attempt to be a ‘small’ show.

The sets and costumes were magnificent. The talent was stellar. Everybody seems to be deservedly nuts for Christy Altomare playing Anya, but I was mesmerized by all of them — especially John Bolton and Mary Beth Peil.

Loved the choreography and, while theater purists may disagree, the use of technology in the show — especially the huge HD screen — really enhanced the production without being the least gimmicky. As a co-producer, I’m proud to be associated with this show without reservation and I’m equally happy to recommend it to anybody also without reservation.

“Getting to know some of the other co-producers was a lot of fun. While they all hope to make a buck, they’re really using their checkbooks because they simply love the theater and want to be part of creating something beautiful.

“The not so good — for somebody with an ego like mine, there’s no question I was excited to meet some stars and completely struck out — we saw that Christian Borles and Tommy Tune were there but didn’t get to meet either. No harm — just disappointing.

“Second, the invitation called for everybody to come dressed in the Russian or Parisian fashions of the 20s. I was there in my really nice embroidered Cossack shirt and almost all the other men were in suits. Basically, the realization of a lifelong nightmare! At least my shirt was comfortable.

“The worrisome — the critics aren’t overwhelmed by the show and that’ll increase the marketing challenge. I was, frankly, stunned at the critical response. Hopefully, this is a show that audiences will make successful in spite of the critics.

“Bottom line: Would I co-produce again, especially assuming that Anastasia recoups? Absolutely. The journey so far has been tremendous fun. And having an excuse to spend three months in NYC — priceless!”

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Meanwhile, the Long Center announced that the critically acclaimed musical, “Fun Home,” is headed to Austin in a touring version Aug. 11-13.

This show, which won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical, is based on Alison Bechdel‘s 2006 graphic memoir by the same name and portrays the artist’s strangely disfunctional family. It’s got some adult content in case you were worried about bringing the kids.

Just a taste of the reviews:

“A rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway” —  Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“An uplifting musical drama of rare intensity, honesty and beauty.’ Fun Home’ speak universally about big things that matter: life, love, family, surviving. It’s unconventional, to be sure, and musical theatre is better for it.” — New York Daily News

“Exquisite. An emotional powerhouse” — Chicago Tribune

Look who won the Austin high school musical awards

The Long Center was packed and loud. The show was long and cool. If anyone kept track of the shows tunes performed during the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards last night, they surely got dizzy by 11 p.m.

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Select Ensemble performs at the Greater Austin High School Musical Awards. Contributed by Monica Peraza

Among the most charming elements of the ceremony was a video tribute from the Broadway cast of “Hamilton.” We’ll see if we can post it here.

RELATED: All rise for Austin high school musicalsAll rise for Austin high school musicals!

Without further ado, here are the winners. We might have missed one in the Twitter crush, but we’ll update.

RELATED: Here’s why Austin theater teens love the stage and their awards show.

(Note: The adult participants are not listed in the program or announced. Their students pick up the awards.)

Best Production: “In the Heights” – Hendrickson High School.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew Kennedy for “Pippin” – Leander High School.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Sophie Niles for “Barnum” – McNeil High School.

Best Ensemble: “Oliver” – Vandegrift High School.

Best Direction: “Curtains” – Anderson High School.

Best Featured Performer: Halle Hill for “Oliver!” Vandergrift High School

Best Lighting Design: “In the Heights” – Hendrickson High School

Best Orchestration: “Cinderella” – Marble Falls High School

Best Technical Execution: “Me and My Girl” – McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Kiara Thomas for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” – Cedar Park High School

Best Actor in Supporting Role: Logan Caraway – Vista Ridge High School

Best Choreography: “Cats” – Cedar Ridge High School

Best Scenic Design: “In the Heights” – Rouse High School

Best Orchestra:  “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” – LBJ/LASA

Best Costume Design: “Cats” – Cedar Ridge High School

Best Student Design: Niko Bermea for choreography of “In the Heights” at Rouse High School,

A star is born: Chanel is Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre

We understand that Chanel, who plays Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre, comes from a singing, not an acting background. You wouldn’t believe that after you’ve seen her tear up the stage as the jazz legend.

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Chanel as Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre. Contributed by Kirk Tuck

Here’s a snippet from my preview:

FULL STORY: Billie Holiday is back in town, this time at Zach Theatre.

“Holiday had an intuitive sense of timing and phrasing,” says the show’s music director, Allen Robertson. “Chanel has captured the spirit of that phrasing. We’re not trying to do a museum piece. She doesn’t imitate her voice. Instead, we are exploring the nature of Holiday’s musicality.”

Here’s a snippet from Andrew J. Friedenthal’s review:

FULL STORY: Actress commands stage as Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre.

Chanel is a dynamic performer, both as an impressionist channeling Holiday’s voice and as a spectacular vocalist in her own right, but she gives “Lady Day” its power most forcefully in the deft way she displays Holiday’s struggle to shine through the adversity she had faced all her life. There is a simplicity to her performance that allows the depth of Holiday’s pain to shine through in moving and powerful ways.

Here’s why Austin theater teens love the stage and their awards show

Come April 13, the Long Center will rumble with singing and dancing during the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards.

RELATED: All rise for Austin high school musicals!

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Finale of the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards show in 2016. Contributed by James Goulden

So why do Austin theater teens love the stage and this singular awards ceremony? We asked.

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Mary Shae Lancaster. Contributed

Mary Shae Lancaster:  I love the high school musical theater awards for many reasons. Number 1 being the community that I’ve found with other high schoolers who appreciate and love the art form of musical theatre as much as I do. It has also nurtured and given me goals to strive for. I love watching talented student performers do this thing we love and do it phenomenally. Most of them can be found in the Select Ensemble over previous years. This is my first year as a part of the ensemble and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have met some of my closest friends through the process and progressed so much in my performance ability by simply being around incredibly talented peers.

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Terin Dailey. Contributed

Terin Dailey: This completely is a different world that I have the privilege of living every day. It means happiness for me in my life and having the chance to perform for another audience again is amazing. We put so much into this show, wanting it to look it’s very best in every aspect. (It) is a way for us to celebrate all the hard work and dedication that we all give to each other every year and how it has affected us immensely.

Lola Rios. Contributed

Lola Rios: (It is) more than a night of celebration. It is hard work, dedication and passion on one stage with 31 schools all singing and dancing for a common love. They have built hope for students to know that they have the support of their schools, other schools and the Long Center. Each school is honored on the night of the awards no matter if they walk away with an award or not. This is because of the magic that the night brings.

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Matthew Kennedy. Contributed

Matthew Kennedy: The high school musical theater awards provide outreach and recognition for talent and ability across the Austin area. It gives Austin schools a chance to connect on a greater level and be recognized for their hard work and artistry they bring to the table. It reminds me that I should try to do my best in whatever I attempt or pursue, and however the outcome may be, the reward is in knowing that I did my best.

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Maddie Brimmer. Contributed

Maddie Brimmer: Each school gets to showcase their abilities and be rewarded for their achievements and the schools nominated for best musical even get a chance to perform a small part of their show on the Long Center stage. It’s a magical night filled with teenagers dressed up in their nicest dresses, fantastic performances, and some celebrity appearances!

Samathna Dickerson pic 2
Samantha Dickerson. Contributed

Samantha Dickerson: It’s an amazing opportunity to bring people of all different schools and backgrounds to all share our talents and a love of musical theatre and build relationships we wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s given me the opportunity to express my passion of musical theatre to an even further extent by participating in these amazing awards and being in the select ensemble; getting to do what I love.