The Drama Den, located inside Blue Springs High School, was bristling with electricity as members of the high school drama department entered their home base to see if they had been nominated for any of the Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards.
One young lady was wringing her hands as she was hugged by a classmate who said, “I’m so nervous I can’t stand it.”
Moments later, drama teacher Lisa Lowman and Starlight Theatre educational and outreach manager Andy Pierce appeared on a stage in front of the students, sporting ear-to-ear smiles that broke some of the tension.
It was then announced that the play “Side Show,” a musical/drama about a pair of Siamese twins who were rescued from a circus freak show, had been nominated for a school-record 14 entries, including best overall production.
Administrators took park in the ceremonial display of Bright Star banners, with a proud principal Tom Alderman carrying the record third banner.
Pandemonium and joy erupted as the students jumped out of their seats and began hugging anyone who was within arms reach.
“This is just incredible,” Alderman said as the celebration continued in the background. “What made the biggest impact on me was how all the students seemed to care more for their fellow students who received the nominations than they did for their own nominations.
“You can tell that this is a family atmosphere. They really do love each other.”
Blue Springs’ previous top mark for nominations was six, for the 2015 production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Joining the Outstanding Overall Production nomination were:
• Sam Aubuchon and Wyatt Atwood, lead actor
• Lindsey Ziefle and Sydney Edie, lead actress (who played the Siamese twins)
• Francis Gatdula, supporting actor
• Outstanding lead design and construction Tier I
• Outstanding scenic design and construction Tier II
• Outstanding hair and makeup design
• Outstanding lighting design
• Outstanding orchestra
• Outstanding technical crew
• Rising Star scholarships, Sam Aubuchon and Tre’ Ellebracht
More than 4,000 students from 48 schools had entries in the Blue Star Awards this year, with 37 schools being recognized at the red carpet May 23 ceremony in which the winners will be announced.
Blue Springs’ 14 nominations were second only to 15 from Liberty High School.
“This is just the most incredible thing,” said Aubuchon, who appeared on Broadway and was able to portray Seymour from “The Little Shop of Horrors” after winning the lead actor award last year.
“Last year, I did my best to win the lead actor, that was my main goal. This year, I just wanted to have fun and celebrate with my friends and classmates who were honored. To have all four leads from the play nominated is amazing – just amazing!”
Atwood agreed, adding, “I am beyond excited. You can just look around the room and see that everyone is beyond excited. This was such a technical play, with circus freaks and Lindsey and Sydney playing Siamese twins, I’m really thankful that our technical crew was honored, too.”
Ziefle and Edie were good friends before the production started, and they joked that they became even closer friends after spending months either sewn or magnetized to each other.
“Our tech crew was so amazing,” said Ziefle, as Edie nodded in agreement. “They spent hours and hours and hours getting it all right, making it look amazing.
“And Sydney and I spent a lot of time together, too. And I mean time together – and it was all worth it.”
Added Edie: “The lighting, the costumes, working with Lindsey and the other actors – it was just amazing. We did a lot of research into our characters and even though one of our performances was canceled because of snow, I think we put on two of the best plays in school history.”
Ellebrat, who along with Aubuchon was nominated for a Rising Star scholarship, was overwhelmed with the response to the backstage magic that made the play an award winner.
“We spent hours and hours above and beyond rehearsals to get it right and I can’t praise Ms. Lowman and our cast and crew for the hard work and dedication and that made ‘Side Show’ so special.”
Standing in the background, letting the students stand center stage as she has done the past 12 years, Lowman took it all in as she tried to grasp the importance of the moment.
“This gives our kids a moment to shine – like they shine in every one of our productions,” Lowman said. “You know, we never select a play thinking it might be recognized by the Blue Star committee – we pick the shows that give our kids the opportunity to shine on the stage.”