Stars were shining on stage as they twinkled above in the beautiful Schuster Center as CJ performing arts students merited top recognition for Outstanding Musical Production for Freaky Friday, and for Outstanding Play Production for Clue On Stage. Both productions were also awarded Outstanding Ensemble during the Miami Valley High School Theatre Awards Showcase, held on June 7, 2022. At the final curtain, Chaminade Julienne performing arts students had received 18 recognitions, including:
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play: Olivia Cotton ‘23 & Serena Stanard ‘22
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play: Grennan Bartlett-Nealeigh ‘24 & Jason Caldwell ‘24
Merit Lead Actor in a Play: Ja'Preace Preston ‘22
Merit Supporting Actress in a Play: Natalia Perkins ‘22
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical: Maggie Weckesser ‘24
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Oscar Gilman ‘24
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Jasmine Acuña ‘22
Merit Lead Actress in a Musical: Olivia Cotton ‘23
Merit Lead Actor in a Musical: Ja'Preace Preston ‘22
Merit Supporting Actress in a Musical: Caleigh Coyle ‘24 & Reese Hawkins ‘24
Merit Supporting Actor in a Musical: Nick Sabbagh ‘23
The Miami Valley High School Theatre Awards
(MVHSTA) celebrate, support, and advocate for high school theatre education throughout the region. It formally recognizes the achievement of community productions and is open to all high schools within the region with both plays and musicals eligible for consideration. Once a play or musical is submitted to MVHSTA by the school, a trained and experienced community member adjudicates the production from which scores and recommendations are taken into consideration when assigning each award.
Students were not only recognized for their efforts, they also received the opportunity to bring their award-winning production back to life on the Schuster Center stage. Members of the Freaky Friday cast performed a musical piece from the show and Maggie Weckesser ‘24, who received outstanding lead actress in a musical, performed her solo for all to hear.
“I was so honored to receive an award and celebrate all of my amazing cast mates. Performing on the Schuster Center stage was something I will never forget,” Weckesser said. “We all worked so incredibly hard this year to put together beautiful art. Getting recognized for the countless time and energy everyone devoted to the process truly felt amazing!”
This year was especially sweet to many cast members considering the last time these awards took place was 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last time the MVSTAs happened was my freshman year and I was ill that day, so it was incredible to finally get a chance to attend this year,” said Jasmine Acuña, winner of the outstanding supporting actress in a musical award. “We weren’t told what we won beforehand, so I was so surprised seeing my name on “the” Schuster Center screen. It was also amazing seeing everyone being so happy for each other. I hope this inspires more people to join us.”
Many students were excited to be performing on the same stage as Broadway’s Mean Girls, which had just taken place the week prior.
“Being able to be recognized and perform on a stage where Broadway tour productions take place, a place I myself sat as an audience member just two days prior watching a Broadway performance, was an experience of a lifetime I will never forget,” said Oliva Cotton, winner of outstanding lead actress in a play.
“I am so grateful for Dayton Live, the Schuster Center, and MVHSTA for giving me an opportunity to be recognized for all the hard work my school and I put into these productions and for shining a light on how much musical theatre is truly capable of doing. Together, we shared a night of congratulations, support, recognition, and love for the arts."
Many members credit their directors Caitlin Bennett, Derek Dunavent, Debi Schutt, Charis Weible, and everyone else who supported, encouraged, and created these productions, for their success. Award-winning productions weren’t the only thing created, students will now get to take with them memories that will last a lifetime.