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High School Earns Kenny Award Finalist Nod for Second Year in a Row

Tonawanda students at Shea's
Above: Tonawanda High School students at Shea’s Performing Arts Center for the 2018 Kenny Awards ceremony.

(Nov. 1, 2018) -- Mamma mia! Here we go again!

For the second year in a row, Tonawanda High School has been nominated as one of 10 Kenny Award finalist for its upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” The announcement came in late October.

“The cast, crew and directors could not be more excited that we are once again part of the Kenny Awards program,” Tonawanda Middle/High School Theatre Producer Daniel Lynch stated. “This program provides so many great opportunities for our students to make connections and build their theatrical skills.”

Lynch mentioned “Mamma Mia” has been on his wish list of musicals for the Tonawanda student body for quite some time now.

“We’re so excited to be doing this musical this year. I can't wait to see the students bring it to life,” he noted. “It’s an energetic show that the cast and crew can have fun with and the audience will enjoy. Also, who doesn't enjoy a little ABBA music?”

The 26th annual Kenny Awards, presented by Shea’s Performing Arts Center and the Lipke Foundation, recognizes the talent, dedication and efforts of high school youth in theatre programs across Western New York. This year, the school that wins the top award of Outstanding Musical Production will receive a $10,000 grant for its theatre program – twice as much as in previous years.

Judges will be sent to the live performances of the 10 finalists’ musicals to determine the nominations lineup for the awards. For Tonawanda High School, “Mamma Mia!” will be performed March 14-17, 2019. Students will be able to audition beginning this month.

“The cast will then dust off the platform shoes and sequins to begin preparing for another amazing Tonawanda production,” Lynch said.

The nominations lineup for the Kenny Awards will be announced in April, with the awards ceremony taking place at Shea’s in Buffalo on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 presale and $10 at the door. You may purchase tickets at the Shea’s Ticket Office, 650 Main St., or through Ticketmaster’s website starting April 27.

In addition to the $10,000 grant tied to winning the Outstanding Musical Production award, the two students who win the Outstanding Leading Actor and Actress awards will be able to compete in the national Jimmy Awards for the title of Best Actor or Best Actress. Those same students will have the opportunity to test out the Broadway waters through a series of workshops in New York City.

Tonawanda won the coveted Outstanding Musical Production award in 2015 for its staging of “The Addams Family.” Last school year, junior Emily Kuhn won Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Lucy Harris in “Jekyll & Hyde.” Additional awards previously handed to the school include Outstanding Dramatic Performance, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Tonawanda joins the following nine schools on this year’s list of finalists: Buffalo Academy for the Visual & Performing Arts (“Les Misérables”); Cleveland Hill Union Free School (“Newsies”); Cuba-Rushford Middle/High School (“Annie”); John F. Kennedy High School (“The Wizard of Oz”); Nardin Academy (“The King and I”); Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School (“Sister Act”); St. Mary’s High School (“The Addams Family”); Sweet Home High School (“Mamma Mia!”); and West Seneca West Senior High School (“Legally Blonde​​”).

“Mamma Mia!” folds the songs of classic pop group ABBA into the hilarious story of a young woman's search for her birth father. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the Greek island paradise they last visited 20 years ago.