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Casa Mañana Showcases Best Of The Best In High School Theater

With talent to spare and the charm of seasoned professionals, students filled the house at Fort Worth’s Casa Mañana Thursday night for the 13th annual Betty Buckley Awards. These musical theater awards promise to showcase high school’s top thespians, and the audience wasn’t disappointed.

More like a mini Tony Awards than a high school ceremony, the Buckleys single out the crème de la crème in student theater.

This year 18 schools from Tarrant, Denton, Hood, Parker, Wise and Johnson counties got in on the fun, and the audience was treated to six, polished performances from the Best Musical nominees.

One of those was a production of The Drowsy Chaperone by the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts.

Senior Benjamin Allen says he’s been hooked on theater since freshman year there.

“It just seemed like such an alluring world and as I’ve studied it more and more, it just gets more interesting,” Benjamin says. “Even though you can see 20 productions of The Glass Menagerie it’s still interesting because of what the actors can do and what actors can find in that work.”

Ben’s school didn’t get the best musical nod, but he nabbed the Best Male Actor trophy. That means he’s headed to New York this summer to compete in the National High School Musical Theater Awards. He admits he’s just the tiniest bit excited.

“And so I’ve heard for four years New York is so great, New York is so awesome and now I finally get to go see it! I’ve over the moon, I can’t wait,” Ben says.

Joining him in the Big Apple this summer will be Grapevine High School’s Sarah Roach who was named Best Female Actor for her Velma Kelly in Chicago. She was floored by the win.

“Surreal? I don’t know! I’m really hyped up, and it’s awesome!,” Sarah gushes.

Chicago also won Best Musical this time around, something Sarah was equally excited about. She says the friends she’s made thanks to theater mean the world to her.

“It’s really the main thing that I’ve done in high school and I’ve built so many strong connections, almost like family bonds. And it’s really something that I fall back on and so it’s a really great support group to have and it’s been something that’s really carried me through,” says Sarah.

Both Sarah and Ben will study theater in college and pursue a career in the industry. They know it’s going to be a hard road, but they both say they’re ready to walk it.

2013 Buckley Award Winners

Excellence in Student Lighting Design, Budget Level 1

Nick Connolly, Keller High School, The Wedding Singer

Excellence in Student Lighting Design, Budget Level 2

Scott Luke and Alden Bird, Grapevine High School, Chicago

Excellence in Student Scenic Design, Budget Level 1

Zach Jernstrom and Stephanie Campbell, Central High School – Keller, Little Shop of Horrors

Excellence in Student Scenic Design, Budget Level 2

Erin Seeton, Mansfield High School, The Drowsy Chaperone

Excellence in Student Costume Design, Budget Level 1

Crystal Bollinger and Jerome Lewis, Grapevine High School, Chicago

Excellence in Student Costume Design, Budget Level 2

Stormy Czupil and Kristi Salinas, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, The Drowsy Chaperone

Best Student Orchestra

Grapevine High School, Chicago

Excellence in Student Choreography

Chelsea Branscum and Faith Savage, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, The Drowsy Chaperone

Best Ensemble

Grapevine High School, Chicago

Best Female Supporting Actor

Natalie Laboda, Timber Creek High School, Footloose (Vi Moore)

Best Male Supporting Actor

Alexander Cook, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, The Drowsy Chaperone (Adolfo)

Best Male Actor
Ben Allen, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, The Drowsy Chaperone (Man in Chair)

Best Female Actor
Sarah Roach, Grapevine High School, Chicago (Velma Kelly)

Best Musical
Grapevine High School, Chicago

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.