John Burroughs High School students performed “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” from Guys and Dolls onstage at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre Sunday evening, June 1, as part of the annual Jerry Herman Awards. The group performance featured soloist and Burroughs freshman Sully Zack as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
The awards event recognizes talented high school musical theater productions from throughout the Los Angeles area. Burroughs students were one of only four high school groups selected to perform in front of well-known stage, screen and television personalities and a full audience.
Juniors Sawyer Patterson and Samantha Rubin were selected in advance of the awards show as contenders for the Best Leading Actor and Best Leading Actress awards. Rubin’s portrayal of Miss Adelaide from Guys and Dolls made it to the semi-finals in competition.
Patterson’s Nathan Detroit character earned him recognition as a finalist. He took second runner up and received a scholarship prize.
“It was the most amazing experience! Throughout the weekend, I worked with the nicest and most talented people I have ever met in my entire life,” said Patterson. “Being selected one of the top finalists came as a shock to me because of the massive amount of talent that I was surrounded by.”
“Performing on the Pantages stage in front of that many people was a true adrenaline rush and all I could think was just go for it and enjoy the moment,” he added. “I am so grateful for this opportunity and sincerely hope that I can be back next year.”
“We thought performing onstage at the Pantages for a packed house was the best prize we would ever want,” commented Drama instructor Guy Myers. “Our students just beamed all day during the rehearsal, backstage getting ready in the dressing rooms and onstage during the performance.”
“The Jerry Herman Awards was truly an amazing experience! The actual auditions were very laid back and the judges could not have been more pleasant to work with,” Rubin also said. “Getting to meet all the other leading men and women was one of my favorite parts. We all became close very quickly. We all bonded over our stories of moments in shows where things went wrong.”
“Musical theater is always something I have wanted to do and being able to sing and dance on that stage was a dream come true,” she continued. “The Jerry Herman Awards really gave me a taste for what I want to do for the rest of my life and I’m so honored that I was able to partake in this amazing event!”
“Our dedicated students came in to rehearse the number on their first day of summer, which they had last performed back in February,” added Myers. “They were complete pros all day at the Jerry Herman Awards, and Mr. Jennings and I were extremely proud of them and the way they represented our school.”
The annual Burroughs musical is a collaboration between Drama, Choir and Instrumental Music departments at the high school. Guys and Dolls was the sixth such collaboration between the performing arts departments, directed by Myers with vocal music direction by Choir head Brendan Jennings. The 2015 musical at Burroughs is already scheduled for February 6, 7 and 8.
Almost all of the 37 high schools participating in the Jerry Herman Awards were performing arts-based high schools or performing arts magnet high schools. The Jerry Herman Awards are a local competition for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards held annually in a Broadway theater in New York City.
The Jerry Herman Awards program was emceed by ABC’s entertainment reporter George Pennacchio. Guest presenters included Ben Vereen, Richard Chamberlain, Shirley Jones, Russ Tamblyn, Kevin Chamberlin and George Chakiris. Guest judges were Broadway director/producer John Bowab, Cathy Rigby, Nancy Dussault, Brad Ellis and Kay Cole.
Visit the JBHS Drama Facebook page to see more backstage photos from the Jerry Herman Awards at the Pantages and to stay informed about future productions. Upcoming shows and additional information can also be found at jbhsdrama.com. Additional photos from past Burroughs High School theater productions can be found online at Wicked Goddess Photography.