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May 16, 2022

Cougar Theatre Company Cast Members Receive Basie Nominations

By Les Pierce

Carly Cavanaugh (center) leads “The Telephone Hour” number of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

The Count Basie Center for the Arts recently announced the nominations for the 17th annual Basie Awards. For Monmouth County high schools, the “Basies” are the local version of Broadway’s Tony Awards, and a nomination is a valued acknowledgement of excellence in theater production. This year, 16 dramas and 23 musical performances were evaluated by the Basie Awards nomination committee.

Two members of the Cougar Theatre Company of Colts Neck High School honored with nominations.  

Saverio Renda was nominated in the Featured Ensemble Performer in a Drama category for his role of Randolph in the fall production of “Exit the Body.” Other nominees in the category were RJ Vandenbrouck of Mater Dei Prep (“Puffs”), Katherine Smith of Mater Dei Prep (“Puffs”), Kat Wyrovsky of Marlboro High School (“Decision Height”), Sydney Katz of Marlboro High School (“Decision Height”) and the Fairies ensemble group of Middletown High School North (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”).

Carly Cavanaugh received a nomination in the Featured Female Performer in a Musical category for her portrayal of Ursula Merkle in “Bye Bye Birdie.” Competing with the Colts Neck junior for the Basie are Lindsay Waldman of Howell High School (“Young Frankenstein”), Rebecca Roth of Red Bank Regional (“Godspell”), Henriette Pons of Matawan Regional (“A Bronx Tale”), Sydney Spencer of Red Bank Regional (“Godspell’) and Jenna Dacquel of Mater Dei Prep (“Legally Blonde”).

“It was great to see both students bring these characters to life on stage,” stated Cougar Theatre Director Alana Herron. “Carly has an incredible enthusiasm for theater, a natural stage presence and an excellent sense of comedic timing. Saverio totally commits to his role and is confident to go for the big laughs and really interact with the response from the audience. It’s evident they both love performing, and as a director that’s such a delight to watch!”

The annual celebration and awarding of the 2022 Basies is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. Tickets are still available.