By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
For The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT — The red carpet is ready to be rolled out, the tuxedos are pressed and the awards are polished to a brilliant shine as the Community Arts Center gets ready to host the Ray of Light Awards this Sunday.
Now in its fifth year, the Ray of Light Awards honors the creativity and talent of area high school theater and applauds each and every person who makes the magic of live theater happen.
“The evening is a spectacle unlike anything else in the area,” said Jacquie Engel, project designer and director. “The excitement is contagious and the night is just fun.”
The area’s equivalent to the Tony’s, the Ray of Light Awards took to the stage in 2009 by turning sadness into joy after the passing of a beloved friend and patron to the Community Theatre League, the driving force behind the awards, left the organization a donation.
It was decided the funds would be used to honor the creativity and interest in high school theater programs.
At first the awards were given to high schools in Lycoming County, however, soon after the decision was made to include theater programs within a 40-mile radius of Williamsport.
Although every eligible high school does not participate, a dozen schools will be honored, including Central Mountain, Milton, Shikellamy, South Williamsport, Loyalsock, Montoursville, Muncy, Montgomery, Midd-West, Hughesville, Jersey Shore and Williamsport.
“All the schools within the 40-mile radius are sent information each year to participate. Some choose not to,” she said. “The entry fee is $100 for musicals and $50 for plays to be a part of the adjudication process. There is no fee to perform at the event itself. In addition, all participating students attend the event, after-party and reception, at no charge.”
Engle noted the funds needed for the entry fee are either paid either from their student activity account or from their districts directly. The Community Theatre League, a non-profit organization, rarely breaks even and produces the event not to generate funds, but to show the public the power of live theatre in area high schools.
The awards ceremony is open to the public, with tickets priced at $15 for adults and $10 for students. Audience members are encouraged to dress in their finest attire since the evening is a gala celebration of talent and honors.
The festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with a Hollywood-inspired red carpet walk where award nominees and attendees will have their photos taken by the paparazzi before heading into the grand Community Arts Center where executive director Rob Steele will serve as emcee for the evening.
“The Ray of Light Awards are a celebration of the achievements of students, teachers, parents and volunteers involved with musical theater,” Steele said.
During the evening, audience members will be treated to a select of musical performances by all 12 high schools in addition to a major performance number featuring students from each school.
No award ceremony would be complete without awards and the Ray of Light has 20 honors to be awarded, including 12 student awards, four specialty awards and the four major awards — Best Play, Best Small-Scale Musical, Best Large-Scale Musical and The Ray Phillips Trophy.
“One of the best parts of the evening is the after-party. All the high school participants, nearly 500, have a big dance party after the show,” she said. “This is a competition, but you see kids who were nominated in a category dancing right next to the person who won in their category. The camaraderie is awesome to see. Many of these kids have met each other at music festivals or ACT Up! shows and they are so supportive. I just love them.”
The Ray of Light Awards extends far beyond a chance to celebrate local talent in the Valley — it also provides a chance to honor all of those involved with the wonders of live theater. Throughout rehearsals for the ceremony and the gala evening itself, many new friendships will be formed and memories will be made as the community gathers together to see the stellar talent and interest of these young actors and actresses.
And the nominees are:
Among the 2013 Ray of Light award nominees are several local students. Their names, schools, productions, and categories are:
For Shikellamy’s “Is There A Comic In The House” — Leading Actor in a Play: Tyler Stettler; Leading Actress in a Play — Kelsi-Quinn Miller; Supporting Actor in a Play — Thomas Peterson; and Supporting Actress in a Play — Shelby Snyder
Also up for Supporting Actress in a Play is Beverly Wagner, a Midd-West student who appeared in the school’s production of “Treasure Island.”
Nominated for Featured Actor in a Play are Kemah Armes, Midd-West, for “Treasure Island,” and Josh Lloyd, Muncy, for “The Odd Couple (Female Version).”
Daniella Snyder and Rebeka Yocum have been nominated for Featured Actress in a Play for their roles in Shikellamy’s “Is There a Comic in the House?”
Up for Lead Actor in a Musical is Ben Shemory for Shikellamy’s “Me and My Girl.”
Three area students will vie for Lead Actress in a Musical. They are
Rebecca Kriner for Muncy’s “Into the Woods;” Samantha Rohrer for Milton’s “Hello Dolly!” and Shelby Snyder for Shikellamy’s “Me and My Girl.”
Shikellamy students who performed in “Me and My Girl,” Tyler Stettler and Christa Beveridge, are up for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical respectively.
Also nominated for Supporting Actress in a Musical is Nicole Shoop for Milton’s “Hello Dolly!” while Mark Artley, who performed in the same production, has been nominated for Featured Actor in a Musical.
Hoping for the Featured Actress in a Musical award are Midd-West students Collette Saez and Beverly Wagner for their school’s production of “Godspell”and Olivia Wetherhold for Muncy’s “Into the Woods.”
Nominated for in the categories of Best Vocal Performance by an Ensemble as well as Best Choreography are Milton’s “Hello Dolly!” and Shikellamy’s “Me and My Girl.”
Up for Best Play is Shikellamy’s “Is There a Comic in the House?; ” for Best Large Scale Musical — Milton’s “Hello Dolly!” and Shikellamy’s “Me and My Girl.”
Among the schools nominated for the The Ray Phillips Memorial Trophy for Best Drama Program (eligible schools submitted both a play and a musical) are Midd-West, Muncy and Shikellamy.