May. 7, 2022 Morgan High joined 24 other high schools to compete in the Utah High School Musical Theater Awards. The departments fall musical, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” was nominated for nine awards: Best Actress, Shannon Kobe; Best Director, Jennifer Fritz; Best Set Design, Faculty; Best Cameo, Pontipee Brothers; Best Choreography, Faculty; Best Lighting Design, Faculty; Best Costume Design, Faculty; and Best Ensemble.
Morgan High won best choreography, one of the most celebrated awards. Director Jennifer Fritz, along with Angie Hansen and Rylee Looke were the main choreographers for the show, with Brenna Fritz as assistant choreographer. Tennesse Tarrant also assisted as the stage combat choreographer for all the fight scenes in the show. This award has been bouncing back and forth between two schools for years, so winning this award was a big success for students of MHS.
This year was the first time since Covid-19 that the event was held in person; the past two years had been held virtually. This entertaining event was held at the Eccles Theater, in Salt Lake City Utah. Touring Broadway shows, such as Hamilton, Annastasia, and Dear Evan Hansen have all performed on the same stage. Theater co-president and senior cast member, Cameron Carrol, who played Daniel Pontipee, said, “It was such an honor to be able to perform on the Eccles stage! I have wanted nothing more than to dance on this stage with my favorite people. Not only did we make new friends, but we made memories to last a lifetime. I am beyond proud of the theatre department and I’m excited to see what they do next!”
Putting together this full-stage production took many months of preparation. To win the award for best choreography, students at MHS rehearsed for months to prepare the lively dance
numbers that make up the core of ensemble work in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Participants, from MHS, who were performing took a bus down to Salt Lake City the day before the awards and stayed for the required lengthy rehearsals they had to attend. Cayden Standing, a sophomore, who played Caleb Pontipee said, “It was incredible to get to work with such talented directors and fellow actors. The memories made will be with me forever!” Junior, Austin Barlow who played Benjamin Pontipee, said, “Being able to perform onstage at
Eccles was such a blast! How many people can say they performed in front of thousands of people in high school? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I hope to have the opportunity to perform again next year!” The rest of the cast traveled to Salt Lake City the next day. Several parents, family members, and friends came to support cast members.
The awards started with a colorful performance of “A Musical” from “Something Rotten.” All the nominees for best cameo, including the Pontipee brothers, joined together to perform this song. Michael Ballam, creator of the Utah High School Musical Theater Awards, then welcomed the high schools to the awards. He emphasized the importance of the award show as a celebration of all the shows done this year, rather than a competition. Forty-three musicals from around the state were judged, with 24 musicals being nominated for awards. Ten musicals were nominated for best musical performance, MHS being one of them. Eighteen judges traveled around Utah to watch these musicals, seeing over 3,000 students in the process. Sixteen total awards, including nominations for individual tech crew and actors, were awarded, with Morgan nominated for nine of them. The 10 best musical nominees each performed a song number on stage, including the favorite “Goin Courtin” from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Junior, Simon Bott who played Frank Pontipee, said, “There is nothing like being on that stage with such a large audience full of kids and parents who love theater as much as you. Seven Brides was my favorite show I’ve ever been in and to perform one of my favorite scenes on the Eccles stage was something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Other best musical performances from around the state included “Singing in the Rain,” “Mamma Mia!” “Once on this Island,” “Spamalot,” “Little Women,” “The Music Man,” “Urinetown,” “Bright Star,” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Shannon Kobe, a sophomore who played the leading role of Milly Brandon was nominated for best actress. She sang a solo in the “Best Actress Medley” with the other nine actresses who were nominated from other high schools across the state. Kobe said, “It was such an incredible experience to be part of something so prestigious and amazing as the UHSMTA. The people I was able to meet and the relationships I was able to gain is something I’ll hold onto for a very long time. Performing on the Eccles stage as one of the finalists for best actress was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’ll forever cherish. I’m truly honored to have been able to be a part of that and to have experienced it with so many of my close friends!” The winner of best actress and best actor will go on to the Jimmy Awards this summer, which is a Broadway boot camp in New York City.
When MHS won “Best Choreography” for their performance of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” Theatre co-president and senior, Laura Beattie along with sophomore, Ashlyn Turner, who were both in the cast gave a speech thanking the family and friends that have supported them throughout long rehearsals, tech days, and shows. Turner said, “Winning best choreography and receiving the award was such a surreal experience. It is such a validating feeling knowing that others appreciate our efforts and hard work as much as we do. Being able to celebrate with our cast members, close friends and family, and especially our director, Jennifer Fritz,
was the best part of all.”