FORSYTH COUNTY -- High schools drama departments in Forsyth County received three awards and one scholarship earlier this month at the state’s most prestigious level of high school musical theater recognition.
South Forsyth, West Forsyth and Forsyth Central high schools were winners at the eighth annual Shuler Hensley Awards, produced April 21 by the ArtsBridge Foundation at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
For South’s production of “Ghost, the Musical,” Kirk Grizzle won for lighting design and Olivia Morris won for technical execution.
Eric Gray at West won for music direction of the school’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”
Andy Turner at Central was awarded the Morrell Memorial Music Scholarship.
Between West, South and North Forsyth High, 18 nominations came from Forsyth.
The awards are named after Hensley, a Tony Award-winning actor who hails from Marietta, and honor the top talent in high school musical theater across the state.
Milton High’s “Young Frankenstein” won overall production, while direction went to Julie Leggett at Calhoun High for “Oklahoma!”
Best actor went to Buford High’s Will Davis for his role as Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde in “Jekyll & Hyde,” and best actress went to Shelbea Owens from Marietta High for her role as Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray.”
During the Tony-style award show, a 91-member Shuler Student Ensemble performed an opening number from “Motown, the Musical” and closing number from “Memphis.”
The ceremony also featured cameo appearances from Hensley and performances by the six schools nominated for overall production — West and South among them.
Also included were a performance of “Murder, Murder” from “Jekyll & Hyde” by Buford, winner of the Show Stopper award, and leading actor and actress nominee medleys — West’s Evan Calatayud and Peyton Chase, South’s Christen Owen and North’s Brody Grant among them.
A team of more than 60 Atlanta-based arts professionals evaluated the productions of the 50 participating high schools.
The 17-category nomination pool spanned 28 public and private schools from throughout the state.