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Local talent takes home several Isaacs for theater achievements

From left, “Children of God” cast members Emma Rohan, Levi Subett, Sean Toso, Erin Redwing, Sadie Spivey, Michael Sellers, Zak Kalp, Olivia Lusk and Max Hults perform “Ain’t it Good,” which won the Isaac Award for best musical number.
From left, “Children of God” cast members Emma Rohan, Levi Subett, Sean Toso, Erin Redwing, Sadie Spivey, Michael Sellers, Zak Kalp, Olivia Lusk and Max Hults perform “Ain’t it Good,” which won the Isaac Award for best musical number. Photo provided

State College Area High School’s “Children of Eden” took top honors among 12 participating schools in the annual Isaac Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals on Sunday at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona.

But the accolades for Centre County’s spring theater productions didn’t end there. Bald Eagle, Bellefonte and Philipsburg-Osceola area high schools were prominently featured among the nominees, which also included schools in Blair, Bedford, Cambria and Clearfield counties.

The Old Testament, an ogre, an opera and Dr. Seuss were represented in the county’s spring musical theater offerings this year.

But “Children of Eden,” based on the book of Genesis, earned the biggest ovation, with awards for best production, best actor and best actress in a leading role, best musical number and best ensemble, among others.

With 11 nominations, six winners and four runners-up, it was “the greatest showing ever” by State High in the annual awards given by Altoona Community Theatre, Thespians adviser Jill Campbell said. “It was just a magical show.”

What made it such a success, in part, Campbell said, was the “really gifted students.”

Despite an inordinate number of snow days and rehearsal cancellations, she said, the students really stepped up, and they were able to build in time to “polish” leading up to the production. She also attributed the success to the score and the musicians who performed it.

After last year’s production of “The Wiz,” which didn’t have a lot of choral music, a goal was set to “get back to more choral opportunities and production numbers,” Campbell said.

It also helped that the students “all enjoyed each other’s company so much and worked well together,” Campbell said. “That’s what makes an ensemble work.”

P-O’s production of “Seussical” also received 11 nominations, and Natalie Conte took home the award for best actor or actress in a featured role for her portrayal of Sour Kangaroo.

Sarah Chorle, Bailey Hosterman and Merissa Martin were honored for achievement in choreography, and Brooke Wisor was the runner-up for best actress in a leading role for her Cat in the Hat from “Seussical.”

“Dance of the Robe” won best featured dance or dancers in Bellefonte Area High School’s production of “Aida.” That was among Bellefonte’s seven nominations. Others included achievement in design, for which Sarah Toyos was runner-up to Jordan Sugg, of State High, for “Children of Eden.”

Bald Eagle Area High School, with five nominations, earned runner-up for best ensemble for “The Dragon” in “Shrek.”

The participating schools from outside Centre County were Altoona Area, Bedford, Bishop Carroll, Bishop Guilfoyle, Central Cambria, Hollidaysburg, Moshannon Valley and West Branch high schools.

At the Mishler Theatre event, the student groups each performed a number from their reproduction. ACT’s Isaac Awards, in addition to the annual event, recognize student achievement — best actor, actress, supporting actor and actress, and featured role and achievement in design — with scholarships made possible through corporate contributions.

“There was a lot of celebrating Sunday night,” Campbell said.

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