Free State High School theatre students nominated for Blue Star Awards

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For artistry shown in their fall production, Lawrence theatre students have been nominated in seven award categories, including Outstanding Ensemble.

Performers and designers part of Free State High School Theatre’s past production of “Bright Star” have stacked up several Blue Star nominations. The Blue Star Awards, in conjunction with Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, annually recognize musical theater excellence among Kansas City-area high school students, according to a news release.

The Blue Star committee has recognized the entire “Bright Star” cast with a nomination for Outstanding Ensemble. 

Ensemble members include Free State students Jazzlyn Fowler, Colby Stutler, Owen Gerrish, Ava Rivera, Kouri Demelash, Mimi Wood, Ava Ayala, Felix McGowan, Natalie Riley, Becca Craft, KJ Jones, Owen Börk, Kiefer Bullock, Sean Ruddy, Liz Wyle, Piper Bonner, Gwen Fowler, Landry Koester, Ebi Hegeman, Emmett Henry, Nathan Kramer, Ryan Fowler, Joy Malin, Tallulah Salb, Alice Lang, Morgan Sponholtz, Quinn Schroeder, Sofia del Valle, Lilly Rule, Avery Fox, Ellan Hanrath, Emily Rule, Megan Green, Abel Hegeman and Emily Alderdice as well as future Free State students Norah Gerrish, Ashley Sponholtz, Carter Hodges and Rosella Kramer, according to the release.

Additional nominations for “Bright Star” include:
• Outstanding Costume Design: Cella Allison;
• Outstanding Lighting Design: Piper Northrop;
• Outstanding Scenic Design: Nathan Friedman and Rowan Banker;
• Outstanding Performer in a Featured Role: Joy Malin;
• Sophomore Rising Star Scholarship: Ebi Hegeman; and
• Outstanding Orchestra: Live orchestra ensemble members Anders Benson, Pryce Brinkerhoff, Del Earl, Aspyn Roundy, Kianna Ayala, Aidan Ayala, Sidney Smith, Sawyer Janssen, Annah Steele, Lizzy Wood, Cameron Williams and Miles Beatty.

Free State Theatre performed “Bright Star,” a musical telling a love story, in November.

Bryce Jones directed, Laura Thiessen led musical direction and pit conducting, Ric Averill led pit orchestra arrangement and guidance, Kristi Haas led choreography direction, Andrea and Ian Beyer led technical assistance, and Alex Kaufman assisted with the pit orchestra, according to the release.

Winners for each category will be announced at the 2024 Blue Star Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16 at Starlight Theater, 4600 Starlight Road in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s free to attend. Reserve free tickets via Starlight Theater’s website,

Learn more about the Blue Star Award at

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