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North Fort Myers, Ida S. Baker take top honors at 2024 HSMTA


The High School Musical Theatre Awards took place on May 9th at the Barbara B Mann Performing Art Hall. NBC-2 Meteorologist Lauren Hope presided as Master of Ceremonies.

Barbara Mann GM Scott Saxson started the High School Musical Theatre Awards in 2008 to celebrate local high school actors and orchestras, their musical productions, and the hard work it takes to bring those shows to the stage.

Students spend months working on their productions, rehearsing songs and dance steps, designing and painting the sets, sewing the costumes and doing everything else it takes to put on a show. Most schools start working on their productions in the fall and rehearse all year – including after school and on weekends – until they present their shows in March or April. The High School Musical Theatre Awards celebrate their hard work and achievements.

Eight area schools took part in the Awards this year, which are modeled after the Tony Awards. Each performed a musical number of medley before a packed house – on the same stage that saw Hamilton just four days before.

An esteemed panel of five professionals chose North Fort Myers High School’s production of All Shook Up as this year’s Best Overall Production.

Directed by Janelle Laux (3rd photo), the musical tells the story of a square little town in the middle of nowhere where a lonely young girl dreams of hitting the open road. Into her life rides a guitar-playin’ roustabout who changes everything and kick-starts a hip-swivelin’, lip-curlin’ musical fantasy. While the musical covers the full spectrum of Elvis’ discography, at the Awards North Fort Myers performed a medley of “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog” and the romantic ballad “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

North Fort Myers High also won the award for Technical Achievement and Best Ensemble, and was runner up for Best Orchestra. Individual honors went to Mia Zottolo and Soel Novello, who were runners-up respectively for Best Supporting and Best Performer in a Female-Identifying Role.

Ida S. Baker took runner-up honors for Overall Production of a Musical for their production of Beauty and the Beast.

Directed by Sarah Jones and Steven Michael Kennedy, this tale as old as time tells the story of Belle, a beautiful and intelligent young woman who feels out of place in her provincial French village. When her father is imprisoned in a mysterious castle, Belle’s attempt to rescue him leads to her capture by the Beast, a grisly and fearsome monster trapped in his gruesome form by an enchantress a long time ago. The only way for the Beast to become human once again is if he learns to love and be loved in return.

Ida S. Baker High also won honors for Best Choreography and was runner up for Best Ensemble, with Joshua Malpica in the role of the Beast winning the award for Best Performer in a Male Identifying Role.

Six other schools participated in this year’s High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Bishop Verot High School performed a medley from Mary Poppins.

Canterbury School performed a medley from Mean Girls, as did Island Coast High School.

Cypress Lake High School performed “Shakin’ the Blues” from Holiday Inn.

Lehigh Senior High School brought a medley from The Addams Family to the stage.

And Oasis Charter High School performed “Under the Sea” from Little Mermaid.

While a number of other awards were handed out over the course of the evening, the biggest winner was the Southwest Florida theater-going community, which witnessed an astounding array of incredible talent that is guaranteed to enhance the quality and diversity of the productions we see, not just at these incubators of musical theater talent, but at equity and community theaters throughout Lee and Collier Counties.



  • Master of Ceremonies Lauren Hope did theater from an early age through college, and credits that with helping her develop the skills that would later translate well into a career in television. She joined NBC-2 as a meteorologist in June, 2021 and holds a CBM seal, which is the highest seal awarded by the American Meteorologist Society.
  • Under the direction of Theater Director/Teacher Lisa Clark, Bishop Verot Theater performs a variety of straight plays and musicals that feature in excess of 50 students. Past productions have included How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Addams Family Musical, Beauty and the Beast and Grease: The School Version. Bishop Verot is a member of the SWFL Theatrical Society, and Bishop Verot High School Thespian Troupe 6159 is a part of the International Thespian Society, an organization that recognizes students for their exceptional participation in theater.
  • Canterbury School’s theatre program provides a comprehensive education in the art of performing, the history of the stage, and technical aspects of theatre. Under the guidance and direction of Catherine Truesdale, Aaron Jackson and Michael Lynch, Canterbury thespians showcase their abilities at several events throughout the year, which are highly anticipated by students, faculty and members of the Southwest Florida community. Last year, Canterbury’s performance of Elf the Musical was selected as the 2023 HSMTA Outstanding Overall Production. Julian Viacava also took honors for Outstanding Performance in a Male-Identifying Role.
  • The theatre program at Cypress Lakes reflects the formidable skills and considerable experience of Theatre Director/Teacher Carmen Crussard, who also directs the Alliance Youth Theatre.
  • Island Coast High School Theatre Department performed Mean Girls: High School Edition on April 18-20. “The show was the largest one that Island Coast Theatre Department has done in several years, with 37 scene changes, dozens of quick changes, and so much more,” notes Theatre Director Rachel Davis.
  • Under the direction of Janelle Laux, North Fort Myers High theater students receive intensive training in acting, directing, design, and technical theatre. The course of study includes opportunities in acting, voice, and diction, mime and movement, improvisation, directing and playwriting, state make-up, theatre technology, theatre history, vocal techniques, dance, musical theatre, and other classes.

May 11, 2024.


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