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Virtual Teeny Awards Ceremony Celebrates East End High School Theater

Gabrielle Topping

There will be many special performances throughout the evening. (Photo: www.facebook.com/teenyawards)

The 18th annual Teeny Awards Ceremony — a high school theater recognition program, founded and run by East End Arts — will be presented virtually on Thursday, July 23 at 6:00 p.m. as a Facebook Live Stream on the Teeny Awards Facebook page, East End Arts Facebook Page, East End Arts School Facebook Page and Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Academy Facebook Page. East End theater community members will present the awards to students from 18 high schools across the East End of Long Island. This year's awards ceremony will be broadcasted from the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) where select performers, presenters and the host will physically be. "They have graciously offered to host the ceremony and we are so honored. The Teeny Awards actually began at the WHBPAC, so this is a full circle," reflected Kasia Klimiuk, East End Arts Teeny Awards Coordinator. However, the majority of the performances, speeches and award presentations will be pre-recorded videos.

The ceremony will be hosted by local musician and radio personality, Christiaan Padavan - who appeared on season two of ABC's American Idol - and feature performances from schools whose shows were canceled due to COVID-19. Of the 18 high schools participating in the Teeny Awards, 30 shows were scheduled for the 2019-2020 academic year and only 19 shows made it to the stage before the pandemic hit. Since most schools have a fall play and spring musical, all but two schools were eligible for adjudication in each category. "The silver lining is that almost every single school was eligible for some sort of adjudication in each category. There were ten shows in the fall consisting of both plays and musicals and nine shows in the spring. Unfortunately 11 were canceled due to COVID, but we are having most of these schools perform at the ceremony on July 23rd which is very exciting!" she said.

"The arts are so crucial, especially at a time like this. I think people forget that the arts are what we turn to when we need an escape or want to express ourselves," said Klimiuk. "The Teeny Awards is a remarkable program that really highlights the hard work students put into their productions, the community they build by learning how to be part of an ensemble, and the lifelong skills that theater gives them for their futures. It's more than just winning an award, it's about the skills you have in your back pocket after being in or part of a theatre production."

Throughout the year, anonymous judges from the local theater community attend the shows and adjudicate students in 18 categories such as lead male and female in a play, lead male and female in a musical, supporting male and female in a play, supporting male and female in a musical, outstanding performer in a play or musical, outstanding choreography, outstanding poster design and judges' choice, as well as technical recognitions. Each performer is evaluated and scored based on movement, stage presence, delivery, dancing and singing. The students with the six highest scores in each category become the nominees and the student with the highest score is the winner."Outstanding Performer is given to someone who really shines and puts on an extraordinary performance and is not eligible for the Lead or Supporting categories and Judges' Choice is chosen by the judges in a vote for a particular scene, musical number, dance number, ensemble effort or group that the judges feel stands out enough to warrant the special recognition," Klimiuk explained.

"My favorite part about this new virtual world is how many students I have been able to connect with. We are doing a special senior tribute, nominees are creating videos for the ceremony, and it's been nice to really build the community of the Teeny Awards that never really existed before," she noted. "I've been messaging students like mad on social media and they probably think I am crazy! But it takes a village to make a virtual event like this happen and the schools, directors, parents, students, East End Arts, and the local community have really come together to make this happen for the students. I am so happy to be able to have the ceremony in some way, shape or form since so many things were canceled this year. It's going to be an amazing event."

For more information, visit www.eastendarts.org.

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