The Providence Performing Arts Center recently announced the winners of its 1st annual Ocean State Star Awards. Saint Raphael Academy students and staff were recognized with 10 awards for their performances in Mary Poppins Jr. this year.

The Ocean State Star Awards is a new initiative to recognize and encourage excellence in high school musical theater. Schools submitted detailed applications and performed their show in front of adjudicators to be considered. Schools were evaluated on their overall productions, acting and voice, including the quality and strength of individual performances.


Eight Students Receive Honors

Senior Joshua Greenberg received Outstanding Lead Performer and Outstanding Acting Performer Awards for his performance as George Banks. His Outstanding Acting Performer was one of four of these awards given by PPAC. In an article by theater reviewer Nicole Labresh, she writes: “As the uptight George Banks, Joshua Greenberg does a fantastic job of showing his transformation, gradually revealing the chinks in the armor that hides a tender heart,”.

Senior Nathan Corbett also received an Outstanding Lead Performer Award as Bert. He recently committed to Western Connecticut State University’s competitive, NAST-accredited theater arts program and will major in musical theater.

Another senior, Cooper Skenyon, was awarded an Outstanding Dance Performer recognition for his role as Neleus. Cooper is also captain of the talented SRA dance team.

An Honorable Mention in Performance Award was given to senior Aaron Gubala Jr. for his role as Policeman/Messenger. Sophomore Sophia Patino, who played and Mrs. Corey, also won.

Rising Star Awards went to senior Calista Aguinaldo, who played Mary Poppins, and sophomore Jennifer Rodriguez, who played Miss Andrews.

“It is clear from Aguinaldo’s performance that she is having the time of her life in this role. Her Mary has a winning albeit enigmatic smile and no-nonsense confidence: her claim to be ‘practically perfect in every way’ is not a brag so much as a simple statement of fact. She brings such a commanding presence to this role, as well as vocals as sweet as a spoonful of sugar and some dancing chops as well—including tap dancing with the chimney sweep ensemble in ‘Step In Time,’” wrote Labresh.

Senior Izzy Hughes won Honorable Mention in Technical Achievement for behind-the-scenes work as crew foreman/sound board.


Saints Moderators Also Recognized

Two of our SRA Drama moderators also received recognition. Mrs. Sara Costanzo received an Outstanding Stage Manager Award, and Mrs. Heather Gaffney-Hsu received an Outstanding Light Design Award. They were each one of two winners in their respective categories. In addition, an Outstanding Sound Design Award was given to musical director Ray Santos.

Finally, Brennan Carraher was the sole winner of the Outstanding Youth Performer Award for his performance as Michael Banks. Brennan is the son of director and alumna Moria Carraher ’97. We expect to see more of this future Saint on the stage in the Coutu Theater in a few years!


Award Ceremony in June

Seven of SRA’s award winners have been invited to perform during the award ceremony at PPAC on June 4. PPAC will select two Ocean State Star Awards winner to represent Rhode Island in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards® competition in New York City next month.

Saints Drama is part of SRA’s fine arts program and has been consistently recognized as one of the best in the state. Saint Raphael Academy currently holds 24 state drama competition titles. More recently, the drama program represented Rhode Island in the New England Drama Festival, performing the one-act In the Forests of the Night.

According to PPAC’s website, “The Ocean State Star Awards program is designed to celebrate, support, and advocate for high school musical theatre education throughout Rhode Island. The program celebrates high school musicals, students, and teachers by formally recognizing the extraordinary achievements of our state’s high school productions. The Providence Performing Arts Center supports participating high schools by providing high-quality learning, performing, and creative experiences for students.”