West Side Story nabs 8 GAHSMTA nominations

MacTheatre spring musical earns nominations for best production, direction, orchestra and ensemble; freshman Laing nominated for Best Leading Actress


Actress Helena Laing (Anita, center stage in the red dress) commanded the audience’s attention during West Side Story’s historic run. On Tuesday, Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Award officials took notice too, nominating her for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The ensemble, the choreography and the entire production also earned nominations. Photo by Dave Winter.

Mia Terminella, Mac Photojournalism

MacTheatre´s spring production, West Side Story, received eight Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Award (GAHSMTA) nominations early Tuesday morning.

Cast members and seniors Jack Switzer, Anna McGuire, and stage manager and junior Zora Moore-Thoms arrived at the Long Center at 6 a.m., eagerly awaiting the results from the nomination ceremony.

¨I was very proud to see something myself and my cast mates had worked so hard on be appreciated and recognized as one of the best in Central Texas,¨ Switzer said.

The West Side Story team received nominations for a wide range of categories, including Best Direction, Best Choreography, Best Musical Direction and Best Orchestra. The orchestra was made up entirely of McCallum students.

¨Being in the orchestra was one of the best things to ever happen to me,¨ senior trombonist Jonathan Forbes said. ¨Knowing all the work we put into this musical behind the scenes, it makes me feel like my hard work is appreciated.”

Renee Ziegler
The West Side Story orchestra, comprised entirely of Mac students, earned one of MacTheatre’s eight GAHSMTA nominations. Photo by Renee Ziegler.

Dance director Natalie Uehara and dance captain Anna McGuire, a senior, said they were proud to receive a nomination for Best Choreography.

“It was a very challenging, yet rewarding experience,” Uehara said. “Tapping into what Jerome Robbins originally created felt like almost working with him directly. To be that close to the master is awe inspiring. This nomination means the world to me and validates the work of the entire production team including all of the directors, actors and technicians. ”

McGuire was as happy for Uehara as she was for herself.

¨Being nominated is like the cherry on top; getting to work on this show was already so important to me, but [having] my amazing choreographer Natalie Uehara and my work being nominated was so exciting,¨ McGuire said. ¨She is an incredible teacher and choreographer, and she deserved this more than anybody.¨

McGuire is a graduating senior, so West Side Story was her last show with the academy. She says that she was grateful to go out on a high note.

¨Mactheatre has always been different from other high school theatre,” McGuire said.¨This show was definitely more ambitious artistically and technically, but we had such a great cast and crew that we were able to pull it off.¨

Pullquote Photo

I hope that this nomination shows others that it doesn’t matter how young you are: you always have the ability to do something you’re passionate about.

— Best Leading Actress nominee Helena Laing

Joshua Denning, cast director, was nominated for Best Direction, and Sarah Mainwaring, music director, was nominated for Best Musical Direction. Freshman Helena Lang, who played Anita, was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Helena will perform onstage at the awards show as part of a medley featuring the leading actress nominees.

¨This show taught me so much as an actor; I learned that I can’t put myself in a box and type-cast myself without seeing what I can do,¨ Lang said. ¨I stretched myself to put my best foot forward, and I couldn’t have asked for a better challenge.¨

The show as a whole–cast, crew and orchestra– was nominated for Best Production, the final and most prestigious award in the show, meaning that the cast will perform a musical number from West Side Story during the awards ceremony, which will take place April 18 at the Long Center.

¨Being nominated has been such an honor,¨ Lang said. ¨I hope that this nomination shows others that it doesn’t matter how young you are: you always have the ability to do something you’re passionate about.¨