Local mother and daughter among those impacted by Kenny Awards

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Buffalo, NY – Shea’s Performing Arts Center and The Lipke Foundation will celebrate 25 years of the Kenny Awards, a year-long educational initiative which includes performances, numerous awards, theatre workshops and a fully realized ceremony open to the public.

The 25th Annual Kenny Awards ceremony will be held at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre on Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. The ceremony is the culmination of a year-long program that honors and recognizes the talent, hard work, and dedication of area students and teachers to high school musical theatre in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany counties.

This year’s ceremony is especially meaningful to Michelle and Emma Jeziorowski, a mother and daughter who are now both Kenny Award participants – Michelle in 1993-1994 for the West Seneca West production of Pippin, and Emma in 2017-2018 for the WSW production of Anything Goes. As fate would have it, Michelle won the Kenny Award in its inaugural year, while her daughter is currently a nominee as the program celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“As a student the Kennys 25 years ago brought some recognition to the fantastic music programs that our high schools in the area have. As a mom, I started sharing my love of the arts with my own daughter at a young age.  She was bit by the stage bug and never looked back,” said Michelle Jeziorowski. “Twenty-five years later, seeing her perform on the same stage that I did, in the same music department, honoring the same traditions – my heart just beams with pride.  To be able to say that two generations of our family have been able to be part of a program that gives back so much to the community is amazing.”

“Getting chosen for the Kenny has allowed me to see even more of the theatre. As I enter my senior year, I get to take with me the memories of being on stage with my closest friends. Not only that, but being on the same stage that my mom stood on when she was my age,” added daughter Emma Jeziorowski. “My mom showed me the theatre, and her love of music and the arts passed down to me. I can only hope that the Kennys will be here another 25 years. Then my children will be able to stand on the same stage and get to feel that rush of adrenalin when the curtain goes up.”

“Like Michelle and Emma Jeziorowski, there’s a strong generational connection with the Kenny Awards for my family and others,” said Carlisle Lipke, Director of the Kenny Awards. “My mom started the Kenny Awards to honor my father’s love of theatre 25 years ago and eventually passed it onto me to continue the legacy.”

Since the inception of the program, the Kenny Awards have recognized and honored countless outstanding musical productions in local high schools and put $120,000 into area high school theatre programs.  Now in its 25th year, the Kenny Awards will again recognize local high school talent for excellence in producing and performing musicals with host and Kenny alum Lauren Hall from One Buffalo.

Tickets are now on sale for $8 and may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or in-person at Shea’s Box Office, 650 Main Street. The day of the ceremony, tickets may be purchased for $10 at the door.

Applications for this year’s Kenny Awards program were accepted in October and reviewed by the panel of Kenny adjudicators. From the applicant pool, 10 schools were selected to participate as finalists in this year’s program and be eligible for the Outstanding Musical Production award. The finalists for the 2018 Kenny Awards are:

Buffalo Academy for the Visual & Performing Arts – Chicago

Dunkirk High School – Little Shop of Horrors

Eden Jr/Sr High School – Catch Me If You Can

Forestville Central School – Disney’s Beauty & the Beast

Lewiston Porter High School – Into the Woods

Pioneer Central School – Mary Poppins

St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute – The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Starpoint High School – Mary Poppins

Tonawanda High School – Jekyll & Hyde

West Seneca West Senior High School – Anything Goes

The Kenny adjudicators viewed and evaluated the productions and determined the nominees and winners based on what they saw. There are 15 award categories, including “The Kenny” for Outstanding Musical Production in which the winning school receives a $5,000 grant from the Lipke Foundation to be used solely by the school’s theatre department. Other awards include individual performances in leading and supporting roles, as well as areas of technical production, orchestration, choreography, set design, and dance performance.

The Kenny Awards is one of 40 regional awards programs nationwide participating in the National High School Musical Awards Program, aka The Jimmy Awards, which will allow the selected Outstanding Leading Actress and Actor of the Kenny Awards to win an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in June, 2018.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will include rehearsals and coaching sessions with Broadway performers, performances, and other beneficial experiences. Participants in “The Jimmy Awards” will compete for various college scholarships.

Ceremony tickets are available now through a finalist school for $8.00 presale.

For information on the Kenny Award Program, visit KennyAwards.weebly.com or contact Shea’s Education Coordinator Holly Grant at (716) 829-1171 or hgrant@sheas.org.