Friday, June 10, 2005

Pirates of Penzance

I wrote last year about the 5th Avenue Theatre Awards but I will do a reprise. Last year Kamiak High School performed Les Miserables for their annual spring musical. Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre has decided to host and sponsor a Tony Award-like ceremony for high school musical productions. Les Miserables was nominated for several awards including Best Overall Music Production but they came home with only one--Best Music Direction.

This year was the third annual 5th Avenue Awards. Forty-eight schools participated from the entire state though Spokane seemed to be missing. Obviously, the majority of the schools are from the Seattle metropolitan area. Kamiak's Pirates of Penzance received 15 nominations--more than any other high school. The nominations ranged from Best Poster and Program to Best Leading Actor and Actress and Best Overall Musical Production.

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On Monday evening, June 6, we dressed up a little and drove to downtown Seattle to attend a grand and gloriously fun event. Kaley's character was the maiden Kate. Even though she had lines and solo singing parts, the role wasn't particularly big enough for her to receive a nomination. Nevertheless, she managed to be recognized by the 5th Avenue by being chosen along with the Pirate King from her school to participate in the opening number along with performers from all of the schools. Kaley loved having the experience of being directed by professional theater people.

Seattle is becoming well-known for our theater. In the recent Tony awards, the man who won Best Actor in a non-musical was from Seattle. The woman who won Best Musical Actress was from Seattle. And The Light in the Piazza which won many awards had its birth here as did Hairspray which won awards in previous years. So for Kaley to even be noticed by these people is high praise indeed!!

The 5th Avenue Awards is a raucous program. Each of the schools nominated for Best Overall Production presented a segment of their musical. As a result, Kaley was on stage twice--for the opening number and with her own school's Pirates excerpt. High school kids are full of enthusiasm and screams. What I love about it is that these kids adore watching the other schools perform and they scream for everybody--not just their own. Also, the ceremony is full of Seattle culture. The Seattle mayor welcomed everyone; a former Seattle mayor was a presenter; and we had a number of local celebrities present awards. One of the school's had a boat scene and painted on the side of the cardboard boat was "Kalakala". Only Seattleities would understand this inside joke about our broken down homeless ferry. One of the presenters was a local actor who dressed up as Napoleon Dynamite; he brought the house down with his dead on impression. A few "out of it" parents behind me had no idea what he was about and that made it even funnier. Sweet!

And of course, now for the third year, our local beloved loser and TV personality, John Curley, did a little comic monologue. Everybody had tears running down their cheeks out of laughter. This guy plugs right in to the Seattle psyche with his completely self-deprecating style. Award after award was presented and unfortunately, it was beginning to feel like a shut out for Kamiak. Until.....Best Music Direction....and again Kamiak's choral director who is at the moment 9 months pregnant waddled up to accept her trophy for the second year in a row. (And yes, her name is Ms. Duck)

After watching Kamiak perform, I started to get this exciting feeling that just maybe--just maybe they were going to pull it off this year. They were absolutely stellar and I know I am biased but they sounded like a professional Broadway production. I was so proud because Kaley was right in the front due to her main role. Private schools participated including the hoity toity Washington Academy of Performing Arts; they were also nominated in several categories including Best Overall Musical Production. If I had been an objective parent looking for the best place to send my musically inclined child--no way would I fork out the money for a private academy. Spend that money on lessons, folks!! The public schools performed the pants off of these private schools.

Finally, the last award of the night after three delightful hours of watching incredible young talent was about to begin. "And the winner is for 2005 Best Overall Musical Production.......drum roll........KAMIAK (pronounced wrong by someone new to the area so there was a moment of dead silence while everyone was thinking that school wasn't even nominated) PIRATES (screeeeeeeeeeam) of PENZANCE!!"

Kaley and all of her fellow performers rushed the stage. What a moment! And so well-deserved. All of the time I spent making her two costumes on a crappy sewing machine, calming my diva after a bad rehearsal, curling her hair for each performance, and heading up the nightmarish ticket committee was totally worth it. Kamiak's musical was the best in the state and recognized by major talent recognizing people.


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Kaley as Kate in the Award winning Best Musical--Pirates of Penzance
(And I made her dress!! And I curled her hair!!)

To see all of the nominations and the winners, visit the 5th Avenue Theatre website: