Waxahachie High was nominated in 10 categories at the Dallas Summer Musical High School Theatre Awards and took home three trophies including best costume design and technical execution.

The group and its longtime director also made history, as Andy Reynolds received the first-ever Outstanding Educator Award.

The Dallas Summer Musical Theatre Awards aim to inspire and honor excellence in high school musical theater and to recognize the importance of the arts in education.

WHS has competed in all eight years that the awards have been presented, but this year was the program's most successful. The theater department has been nominated 62 times in various categories. This year was the first time to win Best Costume Design as well as Best Technical Execution.

Last year, WHS was nominated in 12 categories with the production "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," but did not finish atop any of those award lists.

The award ceremony mirrors the Tony Awards as musical numbers from each show were presented and, in between acts, awards were presented. After WHS performed the tap number "A Step In Time" from the show "Mary Poppins," it received its awards back-to-back.

The day following the awards, three seniors shared their excitement about the glass trophies and elaborated on the importance of musical theater.

Amanda Ducklow contributed to both costume and tech, while Sam Linguist played an intricate role in costume design and Makayla Goos was a pivotal player in tech.

Goos served as the stage manager for the show orchestrating scene changes, ensuring cast was dressed accordingly and flying equipment was properly intact. She also ran transitions to make sure the show runs as smooth as possible.

"We ran three miles one night, but it is so much fun," Goos said standing the WHS theater hallway. "It's an adrenaline ride from curtain to curtain; it's absolutely crazy especially when you have a show like 'Mary Poppins' where are making people fly and you have these 15-second full-house transitions where you have to make sure he doesn't get dropped and you have a full-house backstage."

For Ducklow to participate as the assistant stage manager and a designer was, "stressful, but I liked it."

For the "Mary Poppins" show, a variety of costumes were utilized that included pieces from previous shows, wardrobes created from scratch and thrift store clothes altered.

Even though Ducklow did not invest time in the Jolly Holiday dress, it was, indeed, her favorite article represented on set. Linguist was also impressed with the refurbished vintage wedding dress that came from Ducklow's private collection. Linguist noted Mrs. Corry's dress from the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" scene that was crafted from a green tablecloth.

Linguist, who will attend Parson's School of Design in New York, was thankful for the opportunity DSM provided to put Waxahachie on the maps for the arts.

Ducklow noted that DSM is an advocate for high school theater and elaborated on the significance.

"I think that the arts is a good program and at a lot of schools it's not appreciated as much," Ducklow said. "A lot of the schools we compete against don't get proper funding and I think DSM helps put their name out there."

She continued, "If I hadn't done theater, I'd failed out of high school because I had no motivation. Theater is important and helps a lot with student dropout rates. It's great that they (DSM) give back."

DSM helps recognize the backstage tech crew that supports the actors on stage.

"It gives us something to work for," Goos emphasized. "We will make this musical as good as we possibly can cause we want a trophy and be recognized, especially tech-wise. It's usually best actor and best actress, and our actors are absolutely astounding. Like, I don't know how they do the things they do."

The recognition for a category that is not as popular, as on-stage positions bring more awareness to the crew. Linguist noted more students have been interested in clothing design as well and attributed it to theater recognitions.

"Last year we had two people in our costume class; this year we have 10. Next year we have like 20," Linguist highlighted. "It's crazy because we actually had a class and won. I'm just excited to see what they can do next year with all the people."

A FIRST-TIME HONOR

For the first time during the eighth annual Dallas Summer Musical High School Theater Awards, an educator was recognized for his or her outstanding efforts.

The presenter iterated a portion of a letter of recommendation written by a current student that read, "He has brought kids out of the worst circumstances into the theater department and transforms them not only into remarkable thespians, but noble, motivated citizens of the world."

Reynolds acknowledged on Facebook, "This award does not happen without the support of my co-workers and directors Ryan Turner Mullican, Paula Antonevich Myers, Jeremiah Ieppert, Laurie Colburn Duke, Sean Cagle Breelyn Wright,Tracy Jordan, Summer Stevens, Shelle Chaney Blaylock, Jenny Bridges, Chad Moore, Adan Casas Brandon Williams, and many more."

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450