MONUMENT • The Palmer Ridge High School Theater Department’s fall musical has been nominated for multiple statewide Bobby G Awards.
Bear Necessity Theater Company, the performing arts group of the PRHS Theater Department, was recently announced as the recipient of six Bobby G Awards for its production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
The Bobby G Awards is a regional high school musical theater program of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, which competes in the Jimmy Awards. This program honors Colorado students and educators in the areas of performance, technical aspects, and overall production.
The eighth annual awards event, which was on hiatus last year due to pandemic restrictions, will be held May 26 at the DCPA’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
The Jimmy Awards are also returning to an in-person event for the first time in two years on June 27 at the Minskoff Theater in New York City. Winners of the Bobby G Awards for Outstanding Actor and Actress have the opportunity to represent Colorado in a week-long series of intensive workshops and with industry professionals and rehearsals for the event of a night of the Jimmy Awards on Broadway.
41 Colorado high school theater productions from 18 counties participated in the Bobby G program this year; 29 of the productions received nominations. Bear Necessity Theater Company signed up last fall for the DCPA to send four judges to score its “Once Upon a Mattress” production after viewing nearly every performance in its four-show weekend. Scores are provided on the production in all available categories along with detailed comments. Five productions receive nominations in each category.
Bear Necessity’s production “Once Upon a Mattress”, directed by Christy Inama on the theme “Authenticity is more to be desired than perfection”, was nominated in the Outstanding Achievement in Hair and Makeup categories (Inama, Emily Osborn) , Outstanding Performance by a Chorus, Outstanding Achievement in Choreography (Inama, Georgia Lawrence, Riana McHugh), Outstanding Achievement in Direction (Inama, Josh Belk), Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Leading Role (Lawrence), and Outstanding Overall Production of a musical.
PRHS theater manager Josh Belk said the cohesiveness of the fall production stood out for him. He said Inama’s theme in the direction permeated the production.
“It provided a backbone that strengthened all areas of the show,” Belk said. “All the pieces seemed to fit together.”
After not being able to perform together on stage for the past two years, the company had a new energy and it was “electric” in the way the cast and production crew were able to tell a story together, Belk said.
Riley Shell, a PRHS theater student, said a lot of work went into making “Once Upon a Mattress” a production the cast and crew could be proud of and represent them as a company.
“It’s really good to see all that hard work recognized and to know that it paid off,” she said. “I am proud of the growth we have experienced as a company and as individuals. We all learned from each other and I think we all improved a lot in the end.
The nominations came as a surprise to the theater company, said PRHS theater student Naomi Snyder. She said she was also happy that the company could perform together again and that her work would be recognized. Snyder said she was particularly proud of the choreography, music, and set design.
“It was a big dream for me to be recognized for something big, and it was a really big thing,” said theater student Riley Troy. “I’m proud of how we all managed to quickly master the choreography. It was sometimes difficult, but with people helping each other, it fell into place.
Belk said recognition is very important to students.
Colorado has two major programs that recognize excellence in high school drama, the Colorado Thespian Conference and the Bobby G Awards. These are as close to a “state championship” as educational theater is, Belk said.
The accolades are also important for the company’s technical theater students, who Belk says may be overlooked for their roles behind the scenes in a production.
“The actors get the spotlight and the applause, but it’s easy to overlook the contributions of the crew and the orchestra,” he said. “The opportunity to be recognized, not just for performance, but objectively for excellent performance, is incalculable.”
Belk noted that Bear Necessity Theater Company is unique for several reasons, including inclusiveness and wanting to reinforce the idea that it’s one company working to produce a show, rather than individuals working together. find in the same place. While that goal is sometimes difficult to maintain, student feedback indicates the company has a family atmosphere, he said.
Additionally, the BNTC encourages student leadership in the performance and technical aspects of production. The teams are led by students who have the latitude to decide how to do their jobs, Belk said.
“We rely on experienced students to teach our younger students how theater works, and Bear Necessity in particular,” he said.
Snyder said she became drawn to the performing arts because acting is complex and expressive, and because BNTC is extremely welcoming. She also noted that acting is a way to improve public speaking and communication skills.
Snell added: “I think it’s a great way to learn new things and create memories that will live on in my memory. I’ve also met a lot of great people through theater who have really helped me feel comfortable being myself.”