Articles


Young Stars Rise to the Occasion


salty

Syracuse is home to a wealth of theatrical talent, much of it nurtured in area high schools and local community theater companies. The area’s theater community gathered on May 18 to honor its youngest stars, and those who work with them, at the SALTY (Syracuse Area Live Theatre Youth) Awards. The ceremony was held at the New Times Theater on the State Fairgrounds in Geddes.

The nominees included students from 10 school districts and 10 community theater groups. Theater organizations must be registered to be considered for awards.

Many of this year’s honorees are already seasoned performers, and some are no strangers to the SALTY Academy. Kara Tripoli, a senior at Westhill High School and a 2007 Best Actress winner, was this year’s choice for Best Supporting Actress in a Community Theater Musical for her role in The Talent Company’s production of Footloose. She also took home the Rising Star Award. Navzad Dabu, a freshman at Liverpool High School and a Best Actor honoree last year, took home a Best Supporting Actor honor for his role in Appleseed Productions’ The Dragon.

Like Tripoli, Michael Linhorst, a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, nabbed two SALTY Awards--one for Best Supporting Actor in a High School Musical, for his role in Jekyll and Hyde, and one for Best Actor in a High School Play for his role in Speak.

The SALTYs also honored some notable newcomers. Jecoura Fields, accepting her Best Actress award for her role in Appleseed Productions’ The Left Hand Singing, made a point of thanking her mother, “who pushed me into this, and I’m very glad she did.” Bethany Harris, who won a Best Supporting Actress honor for her role in Appleseed’s Our Town, also noted that the part was her “first foray into theater.”

Two organizations had particularly good nights. Appleseed Productions won five of the 11 community theater awards, while Fayetteville-Manlius students nabbed six of the nine high school theater awards given for student acting.

For the second year, SALTY Spirit Awards were given to students at each of the registered schools. The winners are selected by the casts, crews, directors and educators at the schools; a winner can be a performer or member of the backstage or technical crew.

This year’s award presenters, many SALTY recipients themselves, helped boost Central New York’s reputation as a source of theatrical talent. Many had finished their first year’s work on college degrees in the performing arts or theatrical production. The night’s final presenters, pre-teen sisters Casey and Erin Whyland, charmed the audience with their comic musings on “theater geeks.”

Moe Harrington and Behzad Dabu returned as co-hosts, their rapport firmly intact. Dabu, who graduated from Columbia College Chicago just the day before, made a dramatic entrance, joking that he rushed in from auditions for American Idol. But the talented duo was upstaged by the students of the hour.

While the awards may be the draw, it’s the student performances that make the SALTY Awards show special. This year was no exception. The performances ran the gamut from hysterical (Solvay High School’s Nunsense “nuns”) to utterly charming (Jeffrey Kerr and Noah Paccia from Tully High School’s Seussical) to show stopping (Jean Goloski’s “Only In New York,” Jesse Pardee’s “Gimme Gimme” and Kara Tripoli’s “Where or When”). When Cicero-North Syracuse High School’s Dino Petrera and Carson Daniels performed “Sue Me,” their chemistry and comedic timing were apparent to even the most casual theater devotee.

The adults did have a few notable moments of their own. Christine Lightcap accepted Best Ensemble and Best Musical awards in Community Theater for The Talent Company’s production of Footloose. “You’ll be happy to know that I’m speechless,” she deadpanned, poking fun at her own love of the spotlight. “It’s a wonderful, beautiful recognition and I am so grateful.”

Lightcap livened things up later, “sneaking” behind Harrington at one point and nailing her with a pie—just as Harrington had done to Lightcap last year. The gag was a hit, proving once again that a well-timed joke never loses its appeal.

Jon Wilson of Appleseed Productions took home the Best Play award in the Community Theater category for the third straight year. He commended those community theater organizations that consistently offer roles to young actors and encouraged others to do the same. Wilson also won the Best Director SALTY for his work at Solvay High School.

When Holly Wilson, a multifaceted director/choreographer/mentor who has worked in both community and high school theater, accepted her Lifetime Achievement SALTY, roars of “We love you, Holly!” erupted from the crowd. A humble William Ralbovsky, director at Tully High School and recipient of the Distinguished Educator Award, remarked that his job enables him “to spend lots and lots of time with the kids and pretend it’s work.”

SALTY Awards co-president Linda Lowen said the credit for the show’s seamless pace--and coordinating nine student performances--went to ceremony director (and noted actress) Heather Jensen-Hill.

Undoubtedly more SALTY Award winners will be inspired to take their own shot at the big time. But dual SALTY winner Michael Linhorst doesn’t plan to be among them. He will not be a theater major in college next year. Instead, he has his sights set on a law career.

“I see some similarities between acting and law,” he said with a smile as the New Times Theater emptied out. “I’m hoping to put some of what I learned (in theater) to good use.”

Click here for gallery of SALTY 2008 photographs by Michael Davis


2008 SALTY Award winners

BEST ACTRESS, COMMUNITY THEATER PLAY

Jecoura Fields, The Left Hand Singing
Appleseed Productions

BEST ACTRESS, COMMUNITY THEATER MUSICAL
Amanda Vogue, Once On This Island
Bishop Ludden High School Community Theater

BEST ACTOR, COMMUNITY THEATER PLAY
Mark Weatherup, Playing With Fire (after Frankenstein)
Appleseed Productions

BEST ACTOR, COMMUNITY THEATER MUSICAL
Nick Vozzo, Once On This Island
Bishop Ludden High School Community Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMMUNITY THEATER PLAY
Bethany Harris, Our Town
Appleseed Productions

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMMUNITY THEATER MUSICAL
Kara Tripoli, Footloose
The Talent Company

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMMUNITY THEATER PLAY
Navzad Dabu, The Dragon
Appleseed Productions

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMMUNITY THEATER MUSICAL
Mohammad Seraji, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Wit’s End Players

BEST PLAY, COMMUNITY THEATER
Our Town
Appleseed Productions

BEST MUSICAL, COMMUNITY THEATER
Footloose
The Talent Company

BEST ENSEMBLE, COMMUNITY THEATER
Footloose
The Talent Company

DISTINGUISHED EDUCATOR
William Ralbovsky
Tully High School

BEST ACTRESS, HIGH SCHOOL PLAY
Fiona Cunningham, Speak
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST ACTRESS, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
Carson Daniels, Guys and Dolls
Cicero-North Syracuse High School

BEST ACTOR, HIGH SCHOOL PLAY
Michael Linhorst, Speak
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST ACTOR, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
Dino Petrera, Guys and Dolls
Cicero-North Syracuse High School

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, HIGH SCHOOL PLAY
Chloe Tiso, Speak
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
Lauren Sageer, Thoroughly Modern Millie
West Genesee High School

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, HIGH SCHOOL PLAY
Ross Berman, Speak
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
Michael Linhorst, Jekyll and Hyde
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST ENSEMBLE, HIGH SCHOOL
Jekyll and Hyde
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST DIRECTOR, HIGH SCHOOL
Jon Wilson
Solvay High School

BEST PLAY, HIGH SCHOOL
Speak
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

BEST MUSICAL, HIGH SCHOOL
Jekyll and Hyde
Fayetteville-Manlius High School

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Holly Wilson

RISING STAR
Kara Tripoli

SALTY Spirit Awards


Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School
Samantha Maslak

Cicero-North Syracuse High School
Aubrey Ellis

Corcoran High School
Georgia O’Donnell

C.W. Baker High School
Steven Scott

Faith Heritage School
Nina Williams

Fayetteville-Manlius High School
Joe Ho

Solvay High School
Kathleen Davis

Tully High School
Ben Meixell

West Genesee High School
Mary Sheedy

Westhill High School
Ethan Coco




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