One senior performing arts student from the Lawrence Woodmere Academy will be able to take one final bow in an upcoming virtual awards show.
LWA senior Harrison Schwartz will be one of 50 theater students that will take part in the 10th annual Roger Rees Awards for Excellence in Student Performance. The show will be held online on June 1 at 7:30 p.m.. A panel of professional Broadway coaches and music directors selected the top 25 men and top 25 women students from New York City-area schools.
Andrew Feldman, an LWA senior and former lead of the Broadway play “Dear Evan Hansen,” will host the show alongside Frank DiLella, a theater reporter for NY1. Feldman was a Roger Rees award-winner in 2019 before staring the title tole of "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway last year.
Schwartz was set to play Gomez in LWA’s adaption of “The Addams Family,” which was scheduled for March 20 and 21 until it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The school had to submit nominees and I ended up being one of the finalists,” Schwartz said. “I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out.”
The feeling of having his last high school play cancelled was disappointing for Schwartz, but he’s excited to participate in the show. “This is making the most of a bad situation,” he said. “Even if it's virtual, I’m glad I can finally do something to conclude my high school acting career.”
Ella Schawrtz, Harrison’s mother, she said that the Roger Rees Awards are the pinnacle achievement for high school performing arts students. “I’m proud of what Harrison and the other kids have been able to accomplish virtually,” Ella said. “It took a very sad situation to cancel the show but they’ve been able to turn it around into something very beautiful with this awards show.”
Tasha Partee is LWA High School’s drama director. She noted that the hard work the student performers put in will get to pay off in the show.
“I’m grateful for our participation in it and the opportunities it's given our students,” Partee said. “It’s more meaningful this year because it is giving us something so positive to be focused on and really giving our students that our preparation for our show wasn't going to waste.”
Partee added how happy she is for Schwartz that he get one more chance to perform in his high school career. “I’m so excited for Harrison because there was a big part of my heart breaking when I realized his chances of being seen on stage in his senior year were getting slim,” she said. “The fact that he is getting greatly deserved time on-stage and getting to take a final bow is fantastic.”
Despite the circumstances, Schwartz said the opportunity to perform is always exciting. “Even though it's not in person, it's still great to perform,” he said. “I’m really excited and I’m proud to be one of the nominees.”
The show can be watched live on YouTube at: https://bit.ly/2TmuVJd.