There is an abundance of fine musical and acting talent performing in the high schools throughout the Susquehanna Valley. This talent gets showcased in a fantastic awards presentation, much in the spirit of the Oscars and the Tonys, when the 10th Annual Ray of Light Awards are presented on Saturday, May 19, beginning at noon at the Community Arts Center in downtown Williamsport.
According to Phil Vonada, one of the organizers of the Ray of Light Awards, Dr. Ray Phillips, late husband of CTL’s President and Founder Andrée Phillips, was a Professor of English and avid supporter of the arts. To honor him, the Community Theatre League started a memorial fund, which has been used to acknowledge excellence in the art of theatre. CTL hopes that the Ray of Light Awards will foster excitement, camaraderie, and healthy competition among students, thereby improving drama in area high schools. Dr. Phillips’ passion for education, literature, and drama was the catalyst for the Ray of Light Awards and an ongoing way of commemorating his life and loves.
The Ray of Light Awards began in 2009, so they are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. The program began specifically for Lycoming County school districts, and the first year celebrated nine districts and 14 productions. It later expanded to include any school district within a 40-mile radius of the Community Theatre League. This year, they are honoring and celebrating 18 school districts and 25 productions. This is the largest year yet, and they are thrilled to be able to present these awards.
“Our adjudicators attend every production that is submitted. This year, we are adjudicating nine plays and 16 musicals from 18 school districts,” Vonada said. “Our adjudicators look at the following criteria:
For each student, they evaluate acting ability, vocal ability/diction, dancing ability (when applicable), sense of character, and blocking/movement.
For the overall production, they are evaluated in singing (projection/volume, intonation/pitch, and tone and style), choreography execution (including energy, style, and consistency), ensemble movement, projection, and energy, an overall sense of character, execution of blocking, pacing, and focus.”
He said their adjudicators do NOT look at things such as lighting, set design, costume design, etc. They are adjudicating only the performances, and not how well funded a production may be.
Some of the productions are largely student-produced, and others have an abundance of parent and community support. They want to make sure that all students are adjudicated fairly based on what they present on stage.
The adjudicators, according to Vonada, are local theatre professionals, former participants in the Ray of Light Awards, and avid theatre-goers from across the participating region.
The day of the Awards starts off with red carpet arrivals in front of the CAC. Each school is given an arrival time, and their families crowd the street. They have “paparazzi” photographers and announcers for this part of the ceremony.
The Red Carpet begins at noon, and the Awards Ceremony begins at 2 p.m., in Tony Award-style, with production numbers from each musical, slide shows of the participating plays, a “group number” performed by representatives from the school districts, awards and trophies, and much celebrating.
Following the Awards, an after-party is held in the Capitol Lounge for all participants, with food, dancing, and more celebration. This is a great time for students from all of the school districts to meet each other and enjoy all of their accomplishments from the school year!
“There is no other program like it in this area, ” Vonada concluded. “We are thrilled to celebrate our local high school theatre programs. Each of the schools gets to bring a production number to perform, and there’s definitely a special exhilaration to perform in front of a huge crowd that includes peers from so many different school districts.”
You can find a complete list of nominees on the Ray Light’s Facebook page or at ctlshows.com, but here are the productions and schools being nominated this year:
9 to 5 – Loyalsock Township High School
A Gift to Remember – Muncy Junior–Senior High School
A Wrinkle In Time – Central Mountain High School
Almost, Maine – Loyalsock Township High School
Annie – Sunbury Christian Academy
Beauty & the Beast – Hughesville Junior–Senior High School
Charlotte’s Web – Selinsgrove Area High School
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Central Mountain High School
Cinderella – Meadowbrook Christian School
Doctor Death – Jersey Shore Area High School
Footloose – South Williamsport Area High School
High School Musical – Muncy Junior–Senior High School
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Troy Area High School
Les Misérables – Central Columbia High School
Little Shop of Horrors – Jersey Shore Area High School
Makin’ It – Williamsport Area High School
Mary Poppins – Midd–West High School
Once on This Island – Benton Area Junior–Senior High School
Ragtime – Shikellamy High School
Seussical – Montoursville Area High School
The Addams Family – Line Mountain High School
The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon – Hughesville Junior–Senior High School
The Rented Christmas – South Williamsport Area High School
The Rivers and Ravines – Shikellamy High
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – Saint John Neumann Regional Academy