Banner year: Morristown High theater nominated for ‘Prancer,’ ‘Addams Family’

The MHS Addams Family Ancestors. Photo: Lors Photography
The MHS Addams Family Ancestors. Photo: Lors Photography
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By Nicholas Voltaggio

This year’s Morristown High School productions of Prancer and The Addams Family have been nominated for a slew of awards in statewide competitions.

Montclair State University’s Foxy Awards program, which recognizes excellence in scholastic plays across New Jersey, has nominated Prancer for Outstanding Achievement in Stage Crew, Excellence in Educational Impact and Community Outreach, and Best Dramaturgy. Brenna Thornton, a junior, also is in the running for best supporting actress.

Awards will be presented on Monday, May 20, 2019, at Montclair State University.

The Addams Family, this spring’s musical, earned a whopping 13 nominations–second-most in the state–and two honorable mentions from the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards.

Modeled after Broadway’s Tony Awards, Paper Mill’s program aims to “encourage and reward exceptional accomplishments in the production of high school musical theater,” according to the Paper Mill website.

Rising Star winners will be announced on Tuesday, June 4, at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

Junior Brenna Thornton, left, and senior Julia Bozza, in 'The Addams Family.' Photot: Lors Photography
Junior Brenna Thornton, left, and senior Julia Bozza, in ‘The Addams Family.’ Photot: Lors Photography

Morristown High School was nominated in categories including overall production of a musical, choir, orchestral, and stage performance and achievement in directing as well as scenic and lighting design.

MHS senior Julia Bozza received an honorable mention for outstanding actress in a featured role from Paper Mill for her work in The Addams Family.  Morristown High has been participating in the Rising Star program since her freshman year.

“In just four short years we have gone from the newbies in the program to being the second most nominated school!” said Bozza, who has acted in six shows during her high school career.

Video: Scene from MHS production of ‘The Addams Family’:

“It feels good to know that I am leaving the program when it is at its strongest. I love knowing that the amazing MHS theater program will continue,” she said.

Bozza credited the drama program’s success to a passionate team of actors and crew members.

“The audience members only get to witness the two- or three-hour hour show, and even then they only see just the cast. What they don’t see is all of the crew work that goes on behind the scenes,” where students worked “up until the custodians kicked them out,” she said.

“Every member of our program shows so much dedication and did everything they could to earn these nominations.”

Opening Crypt Scene - MHS 'The Addams Family.' Photo: Lors Photography
Opening Crypt Scene – MHS ‘The Addams Family.’ Photo: Lors Photography

Production Stage Manager Ashe Gobin, an MHS senior, received a Student Achievement Award from the Rising Stars program.

“I didn’t do this for the recognition or the awards, I did it because I loved it,” Gobin said. “However, it does make it a little more fun knowing that your hard work could possibly be recognized on a larger scale than just our stage.”

She said the awards recognized the collective effort of Morristown’s theater students, and the passion that she believes distinguishes the program from many other schools.

“What a time to be alive,” Gobin said, summarizing her theater experience at Morristown High.

Katie Adams, director of The Addams Family, was nominated for excellence in directing by Paper Mill.

Adams called the musical “one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had during my four years involved with the Morristown High School Stage.”

MHS Pit Orchestra for The Addams Family led by David Gallagher.  Photo: Lors Photography
MHS Pit Orchestra for The Addams Family led by David Gallagher.
Photo: Lors Photography

Many seasoned actors graduated in 2018, so Adams had to work with a younger group of students than in previous years.

“The students all rose the occasion and blew us away with their dedication and effort towards putting on the most recognized/nominated show in our school’s history!” she said. “Learning from what worked and didn’t work these past few year is another underlying factor.”

The awards recognition reflects “countless hours, endless rehearsals, brutal all-day set builds, and the drive of each and every person involved,” Adams said.

“Putting on a production of this caliber is no easy task. It literally takes a village. This village is what I call family.”

Foxy Nominations For Prancer:

  • Outstanding Achievement in Stage Crew
  • Excellence on Educational Impact & Community Outreach
  • Best Supporting actress Brenna Thornton
  • Excellence in Dramaturgy

Rising Star Nominations for The Addams Family :

  • Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
  • Honorable Mention: Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Brenna Thornton (as Morticia Addams), junior
  • Honorable Mention: Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role: Julia Bozza (as Alice Beineke), senior
  • Outstanding Performance by a Chorus
  • Outstanding Performance by an Orchestra
  • Outstanding Achievement by a Teacher of Outside Director: Katie Adams
  • Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction: David Gallagher
  • Outstanding Achievement in Choreography and Staging: Chelsea Gower
  • Outstanding Scenic Achievment: Michael Hession
  • Outstanding Lighting Achievement: Michael Hession
  • Outstanding Costuming Achievement: Katie Adams, Mollie Lyn Berman
  • Outstanding Hair and Make-Up Achievement: Olivia Bilbault and Arianna D’Andrea, both seniors.
  • Student Achievement Award: Deanna Swanson, Graphic Designer, senior
  • Student Achievement Award: Ashe Gobin, Production Stage Manager, senior
  • Student Achievement Award: Marissa Aloia, Student Director, senior

Nicholas Voltaggio is a sophomore at Morristown High School.

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