The Pratt High School production of “The Little Mermaid” was honored Friday night with five “Jester” awards from Music Theatre of Wichita.
Receiving Jesters were: Brittnee Hill-leading actress; Stage Crew; Brandon Riney-Technical Achievement (lighting); Rose Beilman and Kerry Thieme-Stage Design; Sue Buhler-Costume Design.
Music Theatre of Wichita started the Jester Awards for High School Musical Theatre Excellence in 2002 to honor the best high school musical theatre talent in the state. A team of trained, skilled judges travels the state and watches dozens of plays then gives rewards that recognize all aspects of production and performance in high school music theatre in Kansas.
Play director Rose Beilman said from three to five judges attend the performances and rate the various elements of the production. Each category is judged against other plays to determine the most outstanding in each aspect.
The Jesters have won high praise for raising awareness of the level of dedication to produce high school musicals. It is a much sought after award.
“Its very hard to win,” Beilman said. “It’s very prestigious.”
Hill has been in productions at PHS, Pratt Community College, Pratt Music Theatre and Wichita Children’s Theatre. She was one of three actresses honored with a “Best Actress” award but she was the only one to receive a $2,000 scholarship as well.
Besides winning a Jester for his lighting work, Riney was also chosen as the only electrical intern for the summer 2014 season of Music Theatre of Wichita.
Beilman said she was very glad that Riney and Buhler were honored because the backstage people don’t get the same publicity as the actors.
Also nominated but not winning Jesters were: Pre-High School Performer-Brynn Hampton for Flounder; Small Ensemble for Ursula’s tentacles-Olivia Gallaugher-Fink, Hogan Thompson, Brandon Guerra, Brydan Whitfield, Allison Clark, Rheagan Hoover, Kieara Kaufman and Dylan Cox; Lighting-Mitch Evans, Lauren Voss, Dakota Hankins and Brandon Riney; Lobby Design-Katie Buhler, Miranda Flemming, Laurisa McAbee, Morgan Schmidt and Lauren Beardsley.
Hill and the stage crew were both nominated in 2013 for “High School Musical” but neither was selected for a Jester.