Big Wins For Central Academy High School At 2016 Blumey Awards
It was a big night for high school theater students from around the Charlotte region as the Blumenthal Performing Arts held it's 5th annual Blumey Awards, recognizing achievements in high school theater.
The excitement was palpable as audience members clad in tuxedos and floor-length evening gowns paraded down the aisle to their seats, and orchestra members began tuning their instruments under the watchful eye of music director David Dabbon, who had traveled all the way from New York to direct the show’s musicians.
The Blumey Awards have been held annually since 2012, and the event has quickly become known as the Tony Awards of regional high school theater. But 2016 will be the first year the show is televised. It will air on WTVI on June 14th. TV cameras were stationed on every level of the Belk Theater with an enormous jib swinging overhead.
The woman in charge of making the razzle dazzle is director Michelle Youngs.
“We actually have nine different counties that are represented in the Blumey awards,” she says. And out of those nine counties, 43 high schools compete against one another in a dozen categories, which include Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Choreography, Best Set, and Best Overall Direction. The big awards, for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Musical, are announced at the end of the show.
Youngs says the winners of the best actor and actress awards not only win a trophy, but also win a trip to New York City to represent the Charlotte area in the Jimmy Awards, which is a national high school musical theater program and competition.
Past Blumey winners have gone on to impressive musical theater careers. Most notably, Eva Noblezada from Northwest School of the Arts won Best Actress in 2013 and, soon after, she was cast as the lead in the West End production of Miss Saigon.
That means there’s a lot of pressure on the 12 student finalists, who are backstage in private dressing rooms getting ready.
“I woke up pretty nervous,” says 18 year-old KarleyKornegay, a finalist from Northwest School of the Arts. “I’m nursing a bit of a cold. [But] after I stopped panicking, I was able to pull myself together. I’m just really excited, and I’m so honored to be sharing the stage with such amazingly talented ladies.”
Next to her, applying foundation, is 18 year-old Amina Faye, a finalist from Central Academy of Technology and Arts. This is her second year as a finalist, but her last year of high school.
“Both of my parents are coming and a lot of family, friends and stuff,” Faye says, “so I’m really excited.”
If you ask the two girls who they think their biggest competition is tonight, they point at each other.
“Everybody’s so good,” Kornegay laughs, “and I love everybody, so whoever wins, I’m going to be cheering them on in the background, whether it’s me, or her, or Haley, or, anybody. Doesn’t matter.”
Faye grins before she adds, with perfect timing, “And then I’ll talk crap about them when I get home.”
It’s like you're having an out of body experience. It’s like I can almost see myself on the stage, and I'm up there, watching myself - Amina Faye
Faye delivered one of the standout performances of the night. She performed “Your Daddy’s Son” from the musical “Ragtime.” She says there’s a lot of stuff going through her head whenever she performs.
“I’ve done it 5,000 times. It’s kind of like I’m a robot,” she says, but then, “at one point, I’m like, ‘Holy crap. Like, I’m on stage. Wow! Lights!’ And then, I’m like, ‘Wait, Amina, reel it in.’ And then - at one point of the song, you always see me, like, I turn it on.”
She snaps her fingers.
“It’s kind of weird. It’s like you're having an out of body experience. It’s like I can almost see myself on the stage, and I’m up there, watching myself, and then I’m like, 'I gotta go back. I gotta finish the job.'”
And finish the job, she did. Faye's performance as Sarah in Central Academy’s production of "Ragtime" won her the trophy for Best Actress. Fighting back tears, she thanked family and friends to a deafening screams and applause.
Faye’s win wouldn’t be the last for Central Academy, a magnet school in Union County. The 17-year-old junior who played opposite of Faye, Justin Rivers, won Best Actor for his portrayal of Coalhouse Walker. Like Faye, Rivers delivered his acceptance speech through tears.
"I would like to thank my amazing new friends that I made over this past week," he said. "I love you guys so much."
The Central Academy’s production of Ragtime won a total of four awards over the night, including Tier II Best Musical (musical production budget over $10,000). Another big winner was cfa Academy, a private school in Concord, for its production of Mary Poppins. The academy won Tier I Best Musical (musical production budget under $10,000), as well as Best Set Construction and Best Choreography Execution.
Faye and Rivers, the students named Best Actress and Best Actor at The Blumey Awards, will receive an all-expenses-paid trip and week-long stay in New York City where they will train and compete with other regional winners in the National High School Musical Theater Awards. The national show and ceremony, known as The Jimmy Awards (named after famed Broadway producer, James M. Nederlander), takes place in New York on June 27, 2016.