This past fall, Platte County High School put on a performance of the musical “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” Plenty of effort went into the production, work that didn’t go unnoticed.
Last week, the school received six nominations in the 15th edition of The Blue Star Awards from Starlight Theatre, which models the high school honors after Broadway’s Tony Awards. Those up for awards include seniors Connor Mendenhall (outstanding actor in a lead role) and Spencer Kunz (outstanding actor in a supporting role).
Starlight Theatre announced the nominations on Thursday, May 4 with winners announced Thursday, May 25 during a public ceremony at the theatre’s Cohen Community Stage.
“For four years, we have worked incredibly hard at PC to build a program that was student-driven, student-focused and award winning,” Platte County theater teacher Kim Foster said. “My students have poured their hearts into this program. What makes our shows so fantastic is how my students love the stage and the friendships they share upon it. These nominations are just a reflection of the life my students breathe into my career every single day.
“I’ll miss these seniors. They’ve been the group to set a real example. When they started in the program, they immediately made a grand entrance. I’m hoping they realize the legacy they are leaving behind.”
There were 132 nominations spread out across 42 area high schools.
Mendenhall received one of six nominations for outstanding lead actor for his portrayal of J. Pierrepont Finch in “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying,” a satire of big business. The character uses a handbook called “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” in an effort to climb his way from window washer to executive.
Kunz — one of six nominees for best supporting actor — portrayed J.B. Biggley, the feared president of the company where Pierrepont works.
Platte County’s Allison Bergstrom received a nomination for outstanding artistic contribution by a student for her work on choreography. Her competition includes Park Hill South’s Angel Lee, who directed the school’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot.
Platte County also received nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design and Construction and Outstanding Costume Design and Construction. Both were in Tier I, which limits spending to under $1,850.
In addition to his nomination for outstanding lead actor, Mendenhall will also be one of six male finalists for the Rising Star Scholarship. He qualified after Blue Star officials saw the school’s performance, making him eligible to apply.
Mendenhall submitted an application, essay and letters of recommendation in order to earn the nomination.
Park Hill had two nominations for the Blue Star Awards — Kelly Decker and Caitlin Crosby in Technical Achievement for stage management and Decker as one of six female nominees for the Rising Star Scholarship.
In addition to the Blue Star Award recognition, Platte County received 20 nominations from the Kansas City Cappies — part of an international program for recognizing, celebrating and providing learning experiences for high school theater and journalism students and teenage playwrights. The KC Cappies include 15 KC area high schools performing more than 30 shows adjudicated and voted on by critic teams.
Platte County’s nominations included:
Male Critic — Connor Mendenhall
Female Critic — Madalyn Ivy
Best Musical — “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”
Best Play — “The Importance of being Earnest”
Best song in a Musical — “Grand Old Ivy,” Spencer Kunz and Connor Mendenhall
Lead Actor in a Musical — Connor Mendenhall
Lead Actor in a Play — Connor Mendenhall
Supporting Actor in a Musical — Spencer Kunz
Supporting Actress in a Musical — Dani Major
Supporting Actor in a Play — Colin Kinnick
Comic Actor in a musical — Colin Kinnick
Comic actor in a Play — Spencer Kunz
Stage Crew in a musical — Ryan Coyle, Lauryn Klein, Jay Teer, Kailee Young
Creativity — Ethan Ventress, director of “The Importance of being Earnest”
Choreography — Alli Bergstrom
Set Design and Construction — Daulton Bennett and Tinna Rivera for “The Importance of Being Earnest”
Set Design and Construction — Daulton Bennett and Britanie Stewart for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
Costume Design — Mikayla Landers for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
Special Effects and Technology — Blake Conner, Jared Maksudian, Jake Miller, Joel Rodriguez, Zach Rolofson for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
“We strive for perfection and never settle for less than our very best,” Foster said. “I’m proud to teach theatre and I’m proud to teach at Platte County High School. I am constantly blown away at the amazing talent of our students. Not only do they have a natural ability onstage, but they are always looking for ways to improve.
“This year, they did just that and pushed themselves. They wanted the recognition and they definitely got it. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Winners of the Cappies will be announced Saturday, May 27 at Excelsior Springs High School. That ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m.