Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley joins Georgia high school students on stage during the Shuler Awards presented by Arts Bridge Foundation. Photo by Ben Rose Shuler Hensley is a multi talented performer with a longtime commitment to education. His generosity is evident in the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards also known as the Shuler Awards or the Shulers. This is the 14th year of the awards being given and the event is back live and in person on April 21. Shuler Hensley joined City Lights host Lois Reitzes via Zoom and Beth Lenhart director of arts education at the Arts Bridge Foundation to talk more about the awards.
This year the Shuler Awards committee judged 50 different schools productions with 46 volunteer adjudicators from professional arts backgrounds viewing performances. Lenhart explained They basically adjudicate and evaluate the performance on various categories. Those adjudicators then will submit scores and after the scoring we get the nominees … We are very proud to have 20 schools actually being up for nomination.
According to Hensley the evolving nature of the annual event seems more apparent than ever this year. Weve just come through something that no one was expecting he said But its the talent who has evolved to where when I was in high school and coming up in this business to say someone was a triple threat was something super rare. And now its the standard. I mean these kids act sing dance they do everything and they do it really well.
Among the nominated productions are The Sponge Bob Musical staged by Lambert High School in Suwanee some schools classic choices like Les Misérables and Guys and Dolls and a staging of Catch Me If You Can by Ringgold High School that earned no fewer than 11 nominations. After two years of virtual online only Shuler Awards ceremonies this years event celebrates its return to tradition. Hensley stressed how meaningful it was for the Shuler Awards adjudicating volunteers to witness contending productions in person. Theres a word that is profoundly important and meaningful right now and thats the word live he said. As a seasoned theater performer himself currently starring in Broadways current production of The Music Man Hensley knows as well as anyone the value of a live audience.
The audience is a character in this show said Hensley. Every performance we sense the gratitude. We sense the excitement. We sense the energy that they give and its invaluable. Of course the Shuler Awards event will contribute its excitement and energy ending the night as it always does with cannons and confetti. Lenhart added And we have all of the streamers coming out and the … absolute joy as we dance the night away in absolute celebration. The 2022 Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards celebration takes place on April 21 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and will be televised on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 800 PM.