Abilene High School Student Nominated for Music Theater Wichita Jester Awards

April 18—The Abilene High School musical cast isn’t done with “Freaky Friday” yet, as the students’ performance of the musical has been submitted for Music Theater Wichita’s Jester Awards. With less than a week to go until the awards show, the show has received several honors from the awards program and one student is up for an award. Senior Maren Meneley is nominated for “Supporting Performer in Female Presenting Role”.

“I was so thrilled to hear that I had been nominated,” Meneley said. “Theatre has always been such an important part of my life, so to be recognized at the state level is very rewarding.”

The awards divide schools in Kansan into five regions. Whiteley said Abilene is in Region 3 and will compete with schools in Regions 1A-6A in that zone for nominations. The program awards regional honors to the top five nominees in each category. Only the top two in a category from each region become the final nominations for all-state Jester Awards.

Danette Whiteley, an AHS voice teacher, said she submitted the performance for the awards in fall 2021.

“I entered the Jester Awards competition at the suggestion of my colleague, Amy McClure, who I co-teach with. She’s from the Wichita area and she knows the person who organizes and hosts the Jester Awards,” Whiteley said. . “She encouraged me to educate myself and get into our school. We were repeatedly told that our shows were of high quality, so we thought we’d see how our talented students compare to other schools.”

Meneley is the only AHS “Freaky Friday” honored region to be considered for an all-state award. His nomination is for his role as Torey.

The honors for AHS are as follows: Lead Performer in a Female Presenting Role for Senior Naomi Dannefer for her role as Katherine; Cameo Performer for Jenna Tyler senior for her role as Mrs. Myers; Ensemble/Chorus for Abilene High School; Guest Artistic for Melissa Ford for choreography; Stage design for Danette Whiteley; Costume design for Danette Whiteley; and sound design for Darren Whiteley.

The Jester Awards were started in 2002 to honor excellence in high school musical theater, according to the Music Theater Wichita website. Whiteley said a team of awards judges traveled statewide to watch and judge the high school musical performances.

“It’s exciting and so much fun to see them receive these regional honors as well as one of the Jester nominations,” Whiteley said. “A lot of people don’t know or understand the hours these kids put into a production. It’s a lot more physically and mentally demanding than you might think. So for them, getting regional and national recognition is very gratifying.”

The awards ceremony will take place on April 24 at 3 p.m. at the Century II Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the awards show can be purchased online at mtwichita.org or by calling 316-265-3107.

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