By MIKE CHAIKEN
St. Paul Catholic High School students certainly know how to “act” up.
Just ask the judges for the Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards, which honored local performers from across the state in June at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.
Chiara Giampetro, a then-junior, won “Outstanding Lead Actress” for her performance as Maria in “The Sound of Music.” The “Outstanding Supporting Actress” award went to KodyLynn Perkins, a now graduated senior, as Mother Abbess and the “Outstanding Featured Performer” award went to Caleigh Lozito, class of 2015, for her role as Elsa, both in “The Sound of Music” production.
Chiara’s honor earned her the right to attend the National High School Musical Awards held at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on June 29. (See accompanying story on page 1.)
When she heard she was nominated for the award, Caleigh said she didn’t expect it. “I’m my own worst critic so when that stuff happens it’s such an honor. It’s nice to see hard work pay off like that. Just the nomination was such an awesome feeling.”
“I was kind of shocked,” said KodyLynn she heard she was up for an award at CHSMTA. “I remember I was at lunch when the nominations came out. I couldn’t even look at the phone. I threw my phone across the table. I was so dead set that I wasn’t going to get a nomination… We’re all our own worst critic. So never in a million years did I think I would be nominated. I’m just so honored and humbled. It’s incredible.”
Chiara said, “I was pretty surprised because this was my first big role in a school musical. I didn’t know if I was going to be nominated because they didn’t really know who I was… so when the nominations came in it was an incredible feeling. I called my parents right away. I couldn’t stop talking about it. It was awaesome.”
When the awards night came, and the three students were waiting to hear the results, Chiara said, “I definitely spend too much time worry about the other people. So I had already looked up the girls (also nominated) in their shows to see what they were doing.” Her role as Maria was much different from the other nominees. “They were more belting (type of singing). Maria is more basic. It’s more about the character itself. So I knew if I were to win, it would be because (my role) was different. But I didn’t know if it was what (the judges) were looking for.”
“I tried to find as many of my competitors as possible,” said KodyLynn of the night of the awards. “I remember I found one girl who was absolutely incredible. I was certain she was going to win.” And when KodyLynn, in fact, did win, she said, “It was incredible.”
“I had won last year,” said Caleigh about her mindset at the awards. “I thought… that’s it. (I’m done) So I put it out of my head completely that there was a chance…I could win. I wasn’t really prepared with a speech. My award was the second one o the night so when it happened I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this.”
“It’s really surreal (to hear your name),” said KodyLynn of her response to the announcement she won. “I just flew out of my seat because I was so excited. It was a really cool moment.”
Chiara’s award was announced at the end of the night. By then, St. Paul had won a slew of awards in addition to KodyLynn’s and Caleigh’s. “I was kind of on a high already,” said Chiara. “If I won, it would be awesome, but we had already won so much it already felt good.”
But when they announced her name, said Chiara, “It was even more of a shock so it was great.”
To give an award-winning performance, performers typically have to be drawn to their characters, they have to “like” them as if they were living, breathing beings— to help give the effort that special push.
Chiara said, in her mind, it helped that Maria, the young novice who begins a nanny to the von Trapp family before falling in love with the gruff Capt. von Trapp, “was basically me.”
“I shared a lot of the same personality traits with her so it wasn’t really hard to think of her as a real person. But it was hard to remember that it was as show so not everything was me,” said Chiara of Maria.
“She knew exactly what she wanted,” said KodyLynn when asked what she liked about her character, the Mother Abbess. If she and the Mother Abbess were friends, KodyLynn said, “I think she definitely would be that friend you’d go to for advice. I think she’d steer you in the right direction.”
Caleigh said she liked that her character, Elsa—the fiancée of Capt. Von Trap, “is very determined. She doesn’t let anyone walk all over her. She likes to get her own way. I think she’s very sarcastic. So it’s definitely something she and I would find in common (if we were friends).”
The following is a list of the other awards received by St. Paul Catholic High School at the Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards:
Outstanding Lighting Design Achievement for “The Sound of Music,” Rich Parsons
Outstanding Set Design Achievement for “The Sound of Music,” Mark Mazzarella.
Outstanding Direction for “The Sound of Music,” Mark Mazzarella.
Outstanding Production of Year, “The Sound of Music.”
In addition to the CHSMTAs, at the Halo Awards event on May 26 at the Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury, St. Paul won for “Best Classic Musical 2015” for “The Sound of Music” and senior Lauren Popillo won “Best Leading Actress” for her performance in “The Miracle Worker.”
By MIKE CHAIKEN