Theatre and arts education in high schools is an integral part of young adults coming into their own. Each year, the Hollywood Pantages hosts the Jerry Herman High School Musical Theatre Awards with one goal: to constructively support local high schools with their drama programs. With the awards happening this Sunday, May 22nd, we are officially in full “Jerry Herman Mode” as we call it. There are three main sections to go through when prepping for a ceremony of this size.
At the beginning of each school year we begin the sign-up process for the Jerry Herman Awards for the following spring. Schools must fill-out an intent to participate form and provide the name of the show being performed and performance dates. Meanwhile, we at the Marketing department meet with the volunteer adjudicators to sign-up and prepare them for the shows ahead.
Each participating school also fills out an informational sheet. This lets us know which categories they can qualify for in terms of nominations. The Categories include: Scenic Design, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Orchestra, Ensemble/Chorus, Musical Staging/Choreography, Musical Direction, Technical Crew, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, “No Small Parts”, and Best Production.
Once we have all of the information from a school, our adjudicators visit each theatre to watch the productions. Each adjudicator then fills out an evaluation form – scoring each category individually from 1-10 and the production as a whole. They also have the opportunity to fill out a “notes” section where they may say anything that the survey may not have given them the chance to.
After a school’s performance has completed, they are required to send a either a DVD or digital copy of their show along with a program. This is when we here at the theatre bump our involvement up to the next level. Our small but mighty team closely watches each production, taking copious notes of our own, along with having the adjudicators’ documents right by our sides.
As we watch, each school is given one over-all production score and also individual scores for each award category. The way we calculate these scores is easy: we add up all the numbers in each category and divide it by the number of adjudicators that saw the performance. Simple, median math. The schools with the highest scores are nominated for their respective categories and, naturally, the highest score is the winner.
This is the part of the process that many people scrunch their eyebrows at. An audition process for an awards show? But haven’t you seen and scored all the productions based on all categories? Yes, we have, but that category does not include leading actor and actress. The process for that particular category is a little bit different.
At the beginning of each season, each school is given a list of qualifying lead roles provided by the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, and then each school must choose one leading lady and one leading man to audition for the best actor/actress category. They attend one of two nights of auditions, bringing their headshot and two pieces of sheet music (one from the part they played in their production, and one of their choosing) and perform in front of our panel of judges. This year includes John Bowab, Kenny Ortega, Nancy Dussault, Kathy Rigby, and Lewis Weintraub.
Once the two nights of auditions are complete, the judges narrow the participants down to six finalists. On the night of the Jerry Herman Awards Ceremony the six finalists are announced. Each finalist will sing the song from the part they played in their production during the Jerry Herman Awards as a final audition. During intermission the judges come together to decide which leading lady and which leading male will win and move onto New York City for the Jimmy Awards.
What are the Jimmy Awards you ask? Well that’s a blog post for another time.
For ticket information about the Jerry Herman Awards Sunday, May 22 CLICK HERE