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Cy-Fair Schools in the Spotlight at the Tommy Tune Awards

| July 1, 2013

Klein Oak’s Morgan Starr was nominated for best leading actress as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Ryne Nardecchia advanced to the national competition by winning best actor in a leading role at the 11th annual Tommy Tune Awards for his performance in the title role of Sweeney Todd, which was Klein Oak’s spring musical.

Klein Oak’s Morgan Starr was nominated for best leading actress as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Ryne Nardecchia advanced to the national competition by winning best actor in a leading role at the 11th annual Tommy Tune Awards for his performance in the title role of Sweeney Todd, which was Klein Oak’s spring musical.

Klein Oak High and Klein High dominated the musical nominations 

By Don Maines

On July 1, Ryne Nardecchia will perform on Broadway, just a month after graduating from Klein Oak High School.

“Just going to New York City, that’s good enough for me,” said Nardecchia, who is being sponsored by Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) at the National High School Musical Theater Awards, also known as the Jimmy™ Awards.

The final night will find Nardecchia onstage at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre in competition with top high school performers from throughout the United States, all vying for the honors, which are named after Broadway theater owner and producer James M. Nederlander.

Nardecchia advanced to the nationals by winning best actor in a leading role at the 11th annual Tommy Tune Awards for his performance in the title role of Klein Oak’s spring musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

“There were many people I wanted to thank, like my sister, Grace, and my mom,” said Nardecchia, “but it was really cool to tell them in that situation.” Nardecchia recalled that he was 10 when he quit the swim team and baseball to pursue musical theater.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect in New York City,” he added. “I’m looking forward to being able to meet all these really talented people and to be able to work with them, see what they do.”

A Winning Day for Klein Oak

The Tony Awards-style ceremony was held April 16 and taped for broadcast at noon-2 p.m. Sunday, July 9 on ABC Channel 13.

The crowd of more than 2,500 people also saw Klein Oak High School win its first Tommy Tune Award in a category other than for an individual performance when Sweeney Todd won best musical direction.

The honor was a tip of the hat to the school’s band director Todd Clearwater, choir director Michael Goede and both singers and musicians who collaborated on the difficult score.

“The musical, being by Stephen Sondheim, is not your typical ‘Let’s do a little scene, then stop and sing a song,’ ” explained Clearwater. “The music is very integrated, much more like opera. The plot was carried by the music.”

“This was the most challenging show I have ever worked on, and to see students perform is a memory I will carry through­­out my career,” added Goede.

With 14 nominations in 15 categories, Sweeney Todd led all 44 schools that entered the 2012-2013 Tommy Tune Awards competition, which TUTS sponsored to honor excellence in Houston-area high school musical theater programs.

Theater teacher Matt Robinson, who directed Sweeney Todd, called it “very exciting” that the awards recognized how well Klein Oak’s band, choir, dance and theater departments worked together to put on the show.

Klein High School reaped nine nominations for its production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

Both schools were nominated for best musical, so each got to perform a production number that will be shown on the Channel 13 telecast.

Klein High’s other nods were for best direction, musical direction, orchestra, scenic design, costumes, lighting, ensemble/chorus and leading actor Nathan Eggen as The Baker.

Nardecchia and Eggen performed a medley with their fellow finalists for best leading actor.

Likewise, Klein Oak’s Morgan Starr, who was nominated for best leading actress as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, performed in a medley of finalists in that category.

Starr, who won best supporting actress at last year’s Tommy Tunes for her performance as Smitty in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, was crowned the winner of the Ruth Denney Scholarship, named in honor of the legendary Houston high school drama teacher whom the award’s namesake, Tommy Tune, described as his mentor.

Nominations Galore for Klein Oak

Tune, who went on to win nine Tony Awards on Broadway, kicked off the April 16 ceremony with a medley featuring all of this year’s nominees in lead and supporting categories, including Klein Oak’s Sarah Holevinski, a finalist for best supporting actress as Johanna in Sweeney Todd.

Klein Oak also was nominated for best direction, choreography, orchestra, scenic design, costumes, lighting, featured performer (Alec Michael Ryan as Judge Turpin), ensemble/chorus and crew and technical execution.

Two students from each participating school were spotlighted in the ceremony’s final number. Cy-Fair students included Nathan Crooks and Andi Dinehart (Cypress Creek High School), Hannah Koether and Daniela Sanchez (Cypress Falls), Emma Hayden and Trent Strahan(Cypress Woods), Toni Rodano and Travis Roper (Klein Collins), Jessica Hale and Austen Smith (Klein Forest), Lance Cremona and Brita Domino (Klein), and Danielle Gonzalez and Alex Shrode (Klein Oak).

Nardecchia, who also won a college scholarship from TUTS, said he will study musical theater at Texas State University in San Marcos. Starr was accepted into a new acting program at the University of Texas in which the 20 students will spend their final semester in Los Angeles, completing their course work while auditioning for professional roles.

Visit TUTS.com/TommyTune for more information  or call 713-558-2600.

Klein High earned nominations for best musical, best direction, musical direction, orchestra, scenic design, costumes, lighting, ensemble/chorus, and leading actor Nathan Eggen as The Baker.

Klein High earned nominations for best musical, best direction, musical direction, orchestra, scenic design, costumes, lighting, ensemble/chorus, and leading actor Nathan Eggen as The Baker.

Morgan Starr (Clair Morris Photography)

Morgan Starr
(Clair Morris Photography)

Ryne Nardecchia   (Amy Morris Photography)

Ryne Nardecchia
(Amy Morris Photography)


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