Free State High School students and lifelong theatre buddies nominated for Blue Star Awards

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Two students at Free State High School have been nominated for prestigious Kansas City-area theatre awards. 

Mary Kate “MK” Shultz and Julia Ruddy were both nominated for Starlight’s Blue Star Awards — Shultz for the Rising Star Scholarship, and Ruddy for the Performance Scholarship.

The awards “recognize achievement and excellence in musical theatre among Kansas City area high school students,” according to the Blue Star Awards website. The awards recognize both on- and off-stage talent.

Brian Percival, FSHS theatre director, said in an email that the students have “worked really hard” to bring live theatre back to the community, and that he was proud of their work.

“Blue Star is a showcase of how hard they work,” he said. “After a year of doing theater on Zoom, it is beyond refreshing to see the students’ work in theatre be where it should be.”

Aaron Clark, the technical production manager for Starlight, visited FSHS Thursday morning to announce the nominations to the students involved in “All Shook Up” and Percival. FSHS’s November production of “All Shook Up” is listed on the Starlight website as a musical submitted for adjudication.

Julia Ruddy holds the banner that revealed her nomination for the Starlight Performance Scholarship on April 28, 2022. (Brian Percival/Contributed Photo)
Mary Kate “MK” Shultz couldn’t be in attendance for the announcement of her nomination for a Starlight Blue Star Award, “so she sent a selfie of her excitement!” (@fs_theatre on Twitter)

Two students unrolled a banner to reveal the nominations to the in-person attendees, but the moments were also captured on livestream, which is available to watch at this link

To apply for the Performance Scholarship, Ruddy submitted a video of herself singing “Who Needs Love” from “Ever After” and another video of her dancing.

“Performance gives me a purpose,” Ruddy said in an email. “The act of sharing a story with an audience can be so powerful.”

As a Performance Scholarship nominee, Ruddy will have the opportunity to perform at the Blue Star Awards, and said she was “delighted” to receive the nomination.

“And there’s no one else I’d rather represent Free State High School with than my friend and lifelong theatre buddy.”

For Shultz’s nomination, she submitted a letter of recommendation from Percival and a résumé that outlined her theatre activity, which includes performing, directing, writing, being a club officer and more. She also wrote a short essay that “focused on how I’ve aimed to promote an encouraging, inclusive, ‘people before product’ culture in our department.”

“Writing the essay really made me reflect on what theatre has taught me and how I will carry those lessons into the next stage of my life,” she said in an email. “I’m incredibly honored to be nominated for this award.”

Shultz also said she was “thrilled” to be nominated with Ruddy, since the two have done theatre together since they were children.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my time in Free State Theatre!” she said. 

The Blue Star Awards are modeled after the Tonys, and it’s “one of the largest and most admired high school theatre programs in the nation,” according to the website. Gates open for red carpet arrivals and photo opportunities an hour ahead of the ceremony, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Emma Bascom (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from December 2021 through May 2022. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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