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May 16, 2022

Red Bank High School Theatre Company Receives Basie Nominations

By Les Pierce

The leads for A Streetcar Named Desire, from left: Charley Novara (as Stella), Lucas Wilson (as Stanley), Emma Weiss (as Blanche) and Dylan Pitanza (as Mitch)

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.

Fourteen nominations were garnered by the Red Bank Regional High School Theatre Company. Five nominations were attributed to their fall drama “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The spring musical production of “Godspell” earned nine nominations.

Lucas Wilson (as Stanley) and Dylan Pitanza (as Mitch) were both nominated for Lead Actor in a Drama. This was one of three instances in which two Red Bank cast members were nominated for the same category. Reuben Jackson was nominated for Outstanding Direction of a Drama. Jackson was previously awarded Outstanding Director and Outstanding Production Basies for Amadeus in 2016.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” also received the Outstanding Drama Production nomination, and Outstanding Set Design nods went to Ashley Basile and Carl Grillo.  

Raymond Faiella (as Jesus) and Jack Schtzenhoffer (as Judas) both received Lead Actor in a Musical nominations for their roles in “Godspell.” For his portrayal of Nick, Sean Busk was recognized in the Supporting Actor in a Musical category.  Rebecca Roth (as Uzo) and Sydney Spencer (as Celisse) were nominated for Featured Female Performer in a Musical.  

The production of “Godspell” also received nominations for Outstanding Musical Direction – Erika Hallenbeck, Outstanding Student/Adult Orchestra – Kevin Pryor, Outstanding Musical Production – Reuben Jackson and Chorus in a Musical.

“All of this year’s nominations are incredibly brilliant young artists and unique in their ability to capture and sustain a character,” Jackson said. “From the intense realism of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ to the soulful music and dance of ‘Godspell,’ each nominee really went all out in the rehearsal process and sustained and deepened their work through the run of each show. I was really fortunate in that I had such a dedicated group of performers who realized the importance and validity of what they were doing and brought a new sense of joy and discovery and drama to each night of performances.” 

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.