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    “Shrek the Musical” honored with National Youth Awards

    Belmont Ridge Middle School received word this past week the 2014 spring production of “Shrek the Musical” has received six awards and 11 nominations for the Ninth Annual National Youth Arts Awards set to take place Aug. 17 in New York.

    National Youth Arts honors outstanding work by youth in the arts. This year more than 400 productions were considered for the awards, including shows from more than 130 different theatres in more than 60 cities spanning 12 states.

    The show’s director, Jason Augustowski, who is a language arts teacher at Belmont Ridge, expressed his pride in the production’s awards.

    "Winning six awards, including Best Overall Junior Production, and receiving a plethora of additional nominations has really validated all of these students' hard work. They behave so professionally at every rehearsal and in every performance. They are always pushing themselves to succeed above and beyond that of an average middle schooler and they couldn't be more deserving of these awards,” Augustowski said.

    Wendy Hampton, whose daughter Amanda played Fiona, said she searched high and low for an organization that awarded outstanding middle-school-level theatre performances.

    “In our area, high schools can participate in the Cappies, which has its award ceremony at the Kennedy Center each year, but no Cappies are offered for middle school performers. NYA is based in Arizona, but is a national organization and presents awards in its Junior Division for middle schoolers. Belmont Ridge won its awards for the Eastern region, which covers the eastern half of the country,” Hampton said.

    Janice Palumbo and Kristie McDonald worked together as co-producers of this year’s musical. “I am ecstatic for all of the kids – they worked so hard, and to be recognized nationally for their work is truly an honor,” Palumbo said.

    "We have been incredibly proud of the level of performance the students were able to bring to the stage and share with our community. Now, with these nominations and awards, it just is another reminder of how lucky we have all been to come together as a cast, crew, orchestra, direction and production team to share this experience with each other,” said McDonald.

    Below are the award results. For complete listing of all awards visit

    Outstanding Production (Junior Division): “Shrek The Musical”
    Lead Actor (Junior Division): Noah Hamadé as Donkey in “Shrek The Musical”
    Lead Actor (Junior Division): Jeyhan Turker as Shrek in “Shrek The Musical”
    Lead Actress (Junior Division): Amanda Hampton as Fiona in “Shrek The Musical”
    Lead Actress (Junior Division): Sarah Katherine Lawless as Fiona in “Shrek The Musical”
    Outstanding Ensemble (Junior Division): “Shrek The Musical”

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