MUKILTEO — When longtime Kamiak High School drama teacher Laurie Levine retired last year, student Emily Vaughan wondered what would happen to her school’s top-rated musical theater program.
Levine had just been awarded the 5th Avenue Theatre’s 2016 lifetime achievement award when Emily met her new drama coach, Bryan Sullivan. She wasn’t especially impressed. He was about to step into a big role at Kamiak.
Sullivan and his students proved themselves, however. The 5th Avenue’s high school awards program officials on Tuesday nominated Kamiak’s spring production of the musical “Footloose” for a whopping 12 awards — including outstanding overall musical — more than any other school in the state.
“It wouldn’t have turned out this way if not for Mr. Sullivan,” said Emily, a graduating senior. “It’s crazy, he’s only 29.”
Emily won an honorable mention for her portrayal of Ethel McCormack, the Chicago single mom who moves with her teen son Ren to a small rural town where dancing is outlawed.
Sullivan has praise for all of his students, and especially for Emily.
“She is one of the amazing heroes of our department,” Sullivan said. “Her leadership was essential, as was her strong voice.”
Don’t know much about the 5th Avenue high school awards program?
Compare its importance to any high school state sports tournament. Each year, schools that can afford to perform musicals submit their shows for consideration. Then a panel of theater professionals tours the state attending more than 1,200 top-notch musical theater presentations at more than 100 high schools. In total, more than 12,000 students participated in this year’s competition.
Winners will be announced at 7 p.m. June 12 at the 15th annual 5th Avenue Awards Honoring High School Musical Theater, a Tony awards-like ceremony at Benaroya Hall. That evening the Kamiak cast will perform a scene from “Footloose.”
“It’s such an honor to be nominated,” Emily said. “And because we have performed there in the past, I can say that it’s an amazing feeling to be part of the awards ceremony.” Fans can watch a live webcast of the ceremony June 12 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/5thave.
Sullivan praised his fellow directors, the parent volunteers and the musical itself.
“‘Footloose’ is a good story about people who search their hearts and minds for the right answer. It’s a good message for right now,” he said. “And it’s got great dancing.”
Sullivan should know. An Oregon native, he earned his theater arts degree at the University of Puget Sound. He spent five years in Seattle acting and teaching, primarily at Seattle Children’s Theatre. After he earned a master’s degree at UPS, he taught two years at Central Kitsap High School in Silverdale before being hired at Kamiak.
“The drama department at Kamiak is in good hands,” Emily said.
Here are the Snohomish County high schools involved, their shows and the 5th Avenue awards nominations and honorable mentions they received:
Kamiak, “Footloose”: Outstanding overall musical, outstanding direction, outstanding music direction, outstanding choreography, outstanding orchestra, outstanding chorus, outstanding lighting design, outstanding stage crew, outstanding leading actress Lauren Carlos as Ariel, outstanding leading actor Mitch Beard as Ren McCormack, outstanding supporting actor Jeff LaSorella as Willard and outstanding non-singing actress Sierra Noble as Betty Blast. Honorable mentions for supporting actress Emily Vaughan as Ethel McCormack, non-singing actor Tristen Yepez as the principal and lobby display.
Everett, “The Little Mermaid”: Outstanding lighting design, outstanding costume design, outstanding makeup and hair, outstanding lobby display, outstanding featured ensemble actor Austin Ipsen as Chef Louis, outstanding ensemble group Flotsam and Jetsam; honorable mention scenic design.
Everett, “Legally Blonde”: Honorable mention featured ensemble actress Lucy Guyer as Brooke.
Jackson, “Hot Mikado”: Outstanding orchestra, outstanding lobby display.
Marysville Pilchuck, “Shrek”: Outstanding makeup and hair, outstanding featured ensemble actress Emmaline Savidge as Pinocchio; honorable mention lobby display.
Lake Stevens, “The Music Man”: Outstanding lobby display, outstanding featured ensemble actress Jade Guillory as Alma Hix.
Arlington, “Guys and Dolls”: Honorable mention leading actress Madison Schimpf as Miss Adelaide.
Stanwood, “The Addams Family”: Honorable mention featured ensemble actress Taylor Johnson as Grandmama.
Meadowdale, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”: Outstanding orchestra; honorable mentions for direction, lighting design, stage crew, supporting actress Elle Fisher as Miss Dorothy, and special award for student achievement to Conor McLaughlin.
Mountlake Terrace, “Zombie Prom”: Honorable mention ensemble group, the Motorwise Guys.
Edmonds Heights, “Jane Eyre”: Honorable mentions for music direction, chorus, supporting actress Darian Conn as Mrs. Fairfax, featured ensemble actress Olivia Elliott as Helen, and special student achievement award to Sophie Burnett.
Edmonds Heights, “The Addams Family”: Outstanding makeup and hair, outstanding lobby display.
Glacier Peak, “The Wizard of Oz”: Honorable mention lobby display.
Snohomish, “Les Miserables”: Honorable mentions for lobby display and leading actor Riley O’Shea as Jean Valjean.
Monroe, “Little Women”: Outstanding orchestra, outstanding leading actress Aly Gutierrez as Jo March, outstanding supporting actress Maleah Haverly as Marmee; honorable mention for the March Sisters ensemble group.
Sultan, “Cinderella”: Outstanding lighting design, outstanding makeup and hair; honorable mentions for scenic design, stage crew, and supporting actor Jacob Polley as Lord Sebastian.