Cary-Grove High School’s “Cinderella” topped musicals throughout Illinois to earn a first-ever award for “Best Production.”
The school went home with the title June 6 during an Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards program hosted at Water Tower Place in Chicago by Broadway in Chicago.
The spring production was chosen from more than 70 participating high school productions in Illinois.
“It was such a thrilling evening, and I was truly overwhelmed with pride and gratitude,” said Rob Boncosky, who directed the show based on a 2013 Broadway adaption of “Cinderella.” “I work with the best kids and production team, and it is so nice for all to be recognized for their efforts, dedication, expertise and passion.”
In the five years since Broadway in Chicago began the awards program, this is the first year nominations for productions were included along with nominations for high school actors and actresses.
It being a first, along with the recognition of all aspects of the production, makes it quite an honor for Cary-Grove.
“It takes a village to put together a production like ‘Cinderella.’ ... I think that’s one thing that really sets us apart. From the tech crew to the band to the cast members who worked incredibly hard and were so dedicated, it was a big payoff,” Boncosky said.
Three members of the “Cinderella” cast – 17-year-old Haley Gustafson of Cary, 17-year-old Corey Barlow of Cary and 18-year-old Kelsey Krigas of Fox River Grove – were among 12 actors and 12 actresses named finalists in the awards competition. They took part in a full day of workshops and auditions for a panel of casting agents and theater professionals.
The top two Illinois performers – an actor and an actress from among the finalists – were invited to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards with an all-expense paid trip to New York City.
Although the Cary-Grove nominees did not win, their talent is undeniable, Boncosky said.
Other Cary-Grove students have been nominated in the past, but never three at once. It was a first for Broadway in Chicago as well, with officials saying they can’t recall a time when three performers from one school were nominated.
“They are incredible ambassadors for our school and certainly a huge part of and reason for our nomination, along with all of the other kids,” said Boncosky, who’s taught at Cary-Grove for 23 years.
For seniors involved, the win was an ideal way to cap off their high school years.
“It’s nuts,” said 18-year-old Shae Dawley, a graduating senior who played Charlotte. “All the efforts that people put in, even just people moving sets, I couldn’t think of a more deserving cast.”
The reaction by most upon hearing the news? “Yelling, a lot,” said 18-year-old graduating senior Blaise Mollet of Fox River Grove, who played Lord Pinkleton.
“It was like we won state. It was sort of like when we watched the football team a few years back, except it was us. ... There were brilliant aspects to every different category you can think of.”