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‘Anything Goes’ secures Choreography Win at HSMTA

On Sat. May 4, the 2024 cast of ‘Anything Goes’ took to the Proctors stage to perform in the High School Musical Theatre Award (HSMTA) ceremony. 

The Shen Musical Company hasn’t performed in Proctors theatre since 2022 when the show ‘Mamma Mia!’ was nominated  for Best Musical by the Collaborative School of the Arts. That year they were also nominated for best technical execution. Despite being nominated for two awards, they didn’t win any. 

This year, on Thu. Apr 19, the cast was excused from classes so they could travel to the High School West Auditorium. There, they watched the live nominations for this year’s awards be announced. To their surprise, they were nominated for four different awards; Best Ensemble, Best Choreography Execution, Best Pit Orchestra and Best Tier A Musical. 

The Collaborative School of the Arts caps the amount of performers allowed on stage at the ceremony. Out of the cast of 80+ students, the creative team could only choose 30. Students are continually disappointed by this regulation. 

Maja Bjork, a member of the junior class who performed in the ensemble in March and played ‘Hope Harcourt’ in the matinee show said, “It limits our cast and our teamwork.” Because of the 30 student limit, Bjork was an audience member the night of HSMTA, as opposed to being on stage. 

Mr. Bradley Gregg, a choir teacher and the director of the Musical Company said, “It takes a moment of excitement when students find out they’ve got nominated and immediately there are other feelings of ‘will I get to be one of the chosen 30?’” Gregg said he feels as though the cast is already so tight knit that splitting them up is difficult. 

The 30 students chosen by the creative team met with their choreographer the Tuesday after the nominations were announced. ‘Anything Goes’ was unique in the sense that it includes tap dancing as opposed to the regular jazz-like numbers students were used to. Many students in the cast had no tap experience prior to the show.  Emily Argento is a professional who has choreographed every Shenendehowa Musical since COVID ended. According to Gregg, Emily is, “a rare gem.” In an email, Gregg said, “Her expertise is incomparable and her heart is as big as they come.” Once the nominations were announced, Emily had the unique job of cutting down ‘Anything Goes,’ an 8-9 minute number, to about 5 minutes. 

Spencer Zambri-Moran, a senior and dance capitan/student choreographer said, “It [the choreography] was really difficult, especially since a lot of people have never tapped before.” They went on to say, “Our choreographer didn’t try to limit us. She kind of just put all these difficult steps on the table and had us learn them which I think set us above.”

After learning new but familiar choreography and multiple rehearsals at Proctors, the 2024 cast of Anything Goes got one last performance. Bjork said, “It was gorgeous. Coming from an audience member, you guys did amazing.” 

Gregg said, “I never get tired of watching it.” 

After three years of participating and not winning any awards, the Musical Company won ‘Best Choreography Execution’ at the 2024 award show. The energy in Shen’s dressing room quickly shifted from anxious to ecstatic. 

Zambri-Moran said, “It was very affirming and exciting to win an award. All of our hard work kind of paid off.” 

Gregg said, “Just getting nominated is really cool… To actually be awarded with one of the categories was super cool but not expected.”

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