Bringing home the Isaacs: Students shine at ninth annual awards ceremony

For nearly a decade, the Altoona Community Theatre’s Isaac Awards have honored the hard work and talent of students participating in high school musical theater, and Sunday night, they did it again.

The ninth annual Isaac Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals was held on the Benzel Stage at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona.

Students took home awards from the show presented by ACT and Reliance Bank for achievement in design; and choreography; best actress and actor in a leading role; best actress and actor in a supporting role; best actor or actress in a featured role; best ensemble; featured dance or dancers; musical number; and production.

The evening – which brought funny and powerful performances, big, beautiful voices and impressive costumes – kicked off with the musical number “Welcome to the Isaacs,” adapted from “Hairspray,” and featured two students from each of the participating schools: Altoona Area High School for “Anything Goes;” Bald Eagle Area High School, “Shrek;” Bedford Area High School, “Anything Goes;” Bellefonte Area High School, “Aida;” Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, “Little Shop of Horrors;” Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown;” Central Cambria High School, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast;” Hollidaysburg Area Repertory Players, “Oklahoma!” Moshannon Valley High School, “Back to the ’80s;” Philipsburg-Osceola High School, “Seussical;” State College Area High School, “Children of Eden;” and West Branch Area High School, “Guys and Dolls Jr.”

Carolyn Donaldson of WTAJ News was the mistress of ceremonies, while Jonathan O’Harrow, who has written the script for all the Isaacs so far, hosted.

Ally Stevens, 16, a 10th grader at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, won best actress in a supporting role for her portrayal of Sally Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

“Being part of The Isaacs is amazing. I’ve been coming to The Isaacs since I was really little, just watching, and I always cheered on BG … and now getting to be part of it is amazing, and now this year, winning something makes it even more special. I think it’s still sinking in, but it’s really great,” she said.

Six individual scholarships from several benefactors for $1,000 were awarded to the winners of of the awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Featured Role and Achievement in Design.

The Isaacs have awarded more than $15,000 in college scholarship money through the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation for any field of study at an accredited institution since its inception.

Production manager Eric Wolf, who is also the committee chairman, said in an interview last week, “There are always just some real stand-out performances, I mean everybody’s good, but there’s always some really just jaw-droppingly good performances, and that, to me, is the highlight, year in and year out … seeing these kids up there doing what they love, having worked very, very hard for a long period of time on this.”

The evening’s “energy is absolutely amazing,” Wolf said, and “the coolest part is that whenever something really amazing happens, the whole audience goes crazy. In a way, they’re in competition with each other, but they forget that … They’re just so appreciative because they know how much work goes into it.”

Bishop Carroll received the 2014 Isaacs Booster Check for $1,000, which goes to their production budget for the upcoming school year.

The Isaacs MVP awards went to Jenna Runk, Altoona Area; Meghan Shiels, Bald Eagle; Leah Lingsch, Bedford Area; Justina Blood, Bellefonte Area; Alex Way, Bishop Carroll; Jessica Sanders, Bishop Guilfoyle; Morgan Long, Central Cambria; Caitlyn Edgell, Hollidaysburg Area; Miranda Wayne, Moshannon Valley; Kyra James, Philipsburg-Osceola; Jordan Sugg, State College Area; and Julie Hunter, West Branch Area.

The Altoona Access Channel will broadcast the Isaacs ceremony on a future date.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.