Two South Side High School students were nominated for Roger Rees Awards for their performances in “The Secret Garden,” which the school’s Performing Arts Department staged last month for its spring musical.
The Roger Rees Awards for Excellence in Student Performance is presented by Disney Theatrical Group and the Broadway Education Alliance in association with Camp Broadway LLC, which serves as the program administrator and showcase producer. They are the only student awards in the New York metropolitan area that recognizes distinction in student performance and outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre programs.
Senior Aline McEntee, who played the role of Martha in “The Secret Garden,” was among the two-dozen or so students nominated for Best Actress, and senior James Hatter, who played Archibald Craven, was nominated as an alternate in the Best Actor category.
Students performed “The Secret Garden” on April 11, 12 and 13, bringing to life the musical based on a 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It tells the story of 10-year-old Mary Lennox, who is living in India with her wealthy British family when a cholera epidemic kills her parents. She’s ultimately sent to live with Craven, her uncle, in England, and his chambermaid, Martha, who tells her about a walled garden.
“This show is about overcoming loss and finding the meaning of life and letting the past go and moving on,” McEntee said. Those themes made it an especially emotional performance, she added, noting what the Rockville Centre community has gone through in recent months. South Side alum Ryan O’Shea, who graduated last year, and sophomore Jamison Novello died in January and March, respectively.
A long ovation followed her solo singing performance of “Hold On,” which she said was surreal. “It was a very special song for me to sing,” McEntee said. “The process was really amazing, especially with the cast. I always looked forward to rehearsal.”
As Craven, Hatter portrayed the character’s change from struggling to look out for Mary, who reminded him of his late wife, Lily, to ultimately loving her. Hatter was also nominated for a Roger Rees Award last year for his performance as Barrett in “Titanic.”
“Being able to go to the Roger Rees with these two really dynamic and different roles is really something special,” he said, “and I’m really thankful that I got the opportunity to do that.”
McEntee, who started in South Side’s theatre program as a sophomore, will attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, where she plans on studying fashion business while continuing to act and sing. A four-year actor at South Side, Hatter, who chose to atted Temple University in Philadelphia, expects to major in vocal performance, with a specialization in musical theatre.
The student nominees will participate in a pre-award training intensive on May 18 in Manhattan, and are set to compete for the title of Best Actor and Best Actress the following day.