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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jun 24, 2020

Thespian Jacqueline Hennessy Honored with Second Basie Award

By Les Pierce

When Jacqueline Hennessey heard her name called out as the 2020 Basie winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, it was not a case of déjà vu. She had indeed claimed a second Basie and for the same Outstanding Lead Actress category.

This time, she was recognized for her role as Abby Brewster in a staging of “Arsenic and Old Lace” at Christian Brothers Academy. Two years pior, she took home the award for her portrayal of Charlotte Hay in “Moon over Buffalo.” In 2019, she received a nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama category for her performance in “Lend Me a Tenor.”

The Middletown resident garnered her first two nominations while attending Red Bank Catholic. She opted for home schooling in her senior year which enabled her to join the cast at CBA under the direction of Marcos Orozco.

The Count Basie Center for the Arts Basie Awards began in 2005 as a way to honor and recognize high school-level actors, actresses and productions in the Monmouth County area. For Monmouth County high schools, the Basies are the local version of Broadway’s Tony Awards.

Every year, a gala presentation ceremony is held at the Count Basie Center. Here, the winners are announced as the envelopes are opened. In addition, performances on stage by students of their spring musicals make for an entertaining evening.

Of course, the presence of the COVID-19 virus dictated changes. Musicals were not assessed and honored as the vast majority had been canceled. Secondly, the presentation ceremony could not be held as in past years.

A virtual awards presentation ceremony was streamed over the internet on June 9. Videos of musical rehearsals by various schools substituted for on stage performances.

The Hennessy family hosted a COVID-safe outdoor party in their backyard for friends and cast members to view the ceremony. Jacqueline was not able to ascend a stage and give an acceptance speech, but at least she shared that exciting moment with supporters.

One interesting fact is that Jacqueline’s mother, Dorianne, also portrayed Abby Brewster in her college days.

“We were so blessed to have Jacqueline join Pegasus Production Company this year,” Orozco said. “On the stage, she was able to showcase her talents and the other members of the company used her energy to bring themselves to a higher level. Off stage, her work ethic inspired those around her, and her positive attitude and humility made her a joy to work with. She is destined for a future on the stage, and we are thankful to be a small part of her journey.”

Hennessy boasts an extensive resumé of theater performances. However, she has also appeared on the big screen and television. Her credits include a supporting role in the 2013 film “Northern Borders,” which starred Bruce Dern, Geneviève Bujold and Jessica Hecht. She has also been seen on “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” multiple times.

Jacqueline expressed praise for the Basie program.

“I am truly humbled to be recognized by the Basies,” she said. “Besides the immense honor and gratitude I feel for having received these nominations and wins, I am thrilled that, as young artists, we are given this outlet to share our passion, especially with each other. The chance to see and celebrate my peers’ performances is usually my favorite part of the awards night. Being acknowledged for the time, effort and heart that we put into our shows means the world to me. Thank you to the Basies for recognizing the need to still celebrate all of us.”