East Penn Press

Sunday, July 5, 2020
CONTRIBUTED IMAGE“Freddy Awards: A Television Special Celebrating the High School Musical Class of 2020,” 6:30 p.m. May 21, 69-WFMZ. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE“Freddy Awards: A Television Special Celebrating the High School Musical Class of 2020,” 6:30 p.m. May 21, 69-WFMZ.

WFMZ telecast to spotlight seniors in area high school musicals salute

Thursday, April 23, 2020 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

While the 18th annual Freddy Awards won’t be presented in 2020 because of the public and charter schools shutdown mandated because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a television show in lieu of the awards show will be broadcast.

The TV show will salute high school seniors who were part of musicals scheduled to be presented at their schools.

The “Freddy Awards: A Television Special Celebrating the High School Musical Class of 2020” will be telecast 6:30 p.m. May 21, 69-WFMZ, a partner with the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton, in presenting the awards show.

This year’s live telecast of the awards show recognizing and rewarding high school musical programs in the region was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, producers of the show emphasized in an April 22 press release that confirmed the TV show saluting high school musicals seniors. An April 9 State Theatre press release announced the cancellation of the awards and indicated a television show was in the offing.

“When schools were cancelled for the year, we knew that a Freddy Awards show in its traditional form would not be possible,” said Shelley Brown, Executive Producer of the awards program and President and CEO of the State Theatre Center for the Arts, in the April 22 press release.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced April 9 that schools in the commonwealth would be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. This followed Wolf’s order Friday the 13th in March to close schools March 16-27, which he extended “indefinitely” in a March 30 order.

“Only six of our 29 schools were able to perform their shows this year, and with self-distancing in place it has been a challenge even to envision a television show at all,” said Brown.

In the circulation area of the Lehigh Valley Press newspapers, Northwestern Lehigh High School and Moravian Academy were the only schools to present their musicals.

Moravian Academy presented “State Fair,” Feb. 28, 29 and March 1. Northwestern presented “All Shook Up,” Feb. 27, 29 and 29 and March 1.

After the governor’s order, Salisbury High School was one of the first schools in the Freddy Awards contest to postpone its production, “Into the Woods,” March 12, 13, 14 and 15.

“But in theater, the show must go on in some form,” Brown continued in the April 22 press release. “And, we are especially sensitive to the seniors that have looked forward to their special night this year.

“In true theater spirit, we will not let this year pass without a salute to the students who have worked so hard on their shows.

“Thanks to the generosity of WFMZ and our wonderful sponsors and donors, we will celebrate in a very different way.

“Our show will be shorter, not as grand as it has been on our large stage. There will be no awards given.

“But it is our hope that we can capture the spirit of joy and supportiveness that we are most proud of in the community that the Freddy spirit has helped to create.” Brown concluded.

As part of the Freddy Awards program, more than $1.5 million in scholarships and awards have been presented to students and schools since 2003, said Jamie Balliet, Senior Vice President, Marketing, State Theatre Center for the Arts and Producer, Freddy Awards, in the press release.

This year, $200,000 in awards is available.

For applications and information: http://freddyawards.org/scholarships-awards

For a list of Freddy Awards program sponsors: http://freddyawards.org/sponsors

The Freddy Awards recognizes and rewards accomplishments in the production and performance of musical theater in high schools in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and Warren County, N.J. The Freddys are named after J. Fred Osterstock, whose birthdate is May 21.

The Lehigh Valley Press Focus section published its annual High School Musicals series, Feb. 19 through April 15, with profiles and photos of 19 productions by schools in the Lehigh Valley Press circulation area.