Patriot Players score top theater award

June 18, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

A month after the Liberty High School Patriot Players took audiences on a journey through Oz, they returned to the stage again, accepting a top honor at the 5th Avenue Theatre Awards June 11.

In what has become an annual tradition for the successful performing arts program, Liberty drama students joined more than 2,000 of their peers from across the state at the show that is likened to the high school version of the Tony Awards.

“It’s a big deal, because it’s like if state football met the Tonys for drama,” Liberty sophomore Lorrin Hunt said.

If the 5th Avenue Theatre Awards were anything like the state football championships, the Patriot Players’ fingers would most certainly grow sore under the weight of the rings that champions often wear.

A year after the Patriots scored a school record four wins at the award show that honors high school musical theater across the state, Liberty’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” took home top honors in the Outstanding Scenic Design category.

“I really do like the fact that we won that award because it kind of does involve everybody,” Liberty sophomore Aidan McEntire said. “A lot of people helped on the set design.”

Pat Leo, a former Liberty drama parent who designed much of the set, accepted the award for the Patriots.

“The Wizard of Oz” was the program’s first show in the school’s new Performing Arts Center. The stage is a lot bigger than what they worked with before, so adapting the set accordingly took a bit of work, Liberty junior Natalie Gress said.

“Our set for the show had to be twice as big as last year’s,” she said. “It involved a great deal more unity, coming together with volunteers and the students to create such a ginormous set.”

The Patriots went into the evening with an impressive nine nominations, including the top category, Outstanding Overall Musical, and two honorable mentions, thanks to the watchful eye of longtime Liberty director Katherine Klekas.

“Although, we only won one, we got nine nominations, which means that we’re competing among the best,” Hunt said. “It’s nice to know that we’re doing what we do well.”

Liberty’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” earned the award show’s top prize last year, and placed first in three other categories. “The Wizard of Oz” fell short of those record marks, but you won’t find any disappointment on the faces of the Liberty performers.

“It’s hard to compare yourself, because you have completely different people and a completely different show, but I think we do great every time regardless, and it has a lot to do with our director, Ms. Klekas, and how hard we work every day,” Hunt said.

Even then, the awards show spectacle is about so much more than wins, losses and nominations, Gress said.

“I think it is kind of mutually accepted that we try not to judge ourselves too much based on what we were nominated for and what we win, but more the great opportunity it is to go meet with this community of theater kids who can all come together and support each other,” she said.

As the Patriot Players continue to get acquainted with their brand new, state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center, there is no limit to what they can do, Hunt said.

“I’m really interested in seeing what show we do next, because Ms. Klekas has been waiting a while to do ‘Oz’ because she wanted the new stage for it,” he said. “I hope we have a huge bang. I hope we have a great production next year. I’m really excited for it.”

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