Solon wins big at 4th annual Dazzle Awards


Natalia Selvaggio

SHS Drama Club at the Dazzle Awards

Natalia Selvaggio, Contributing Writer

Solon High School’s (SHS) Drama Club attended the fourth annual Dazzle Awards, a high school musical theatre competition around Cleveland, May 18. Solon won four total awards based on this year’s spring musical “Beauty & the Beast. ”They took home the award for Best Ensemble/Chorus, Best Scenic Design, Best Musical Tier 2 (Having a budget of over $10,000) and The Pat and Jim Chapman award for Best Actor awarded to senior J.R. Heckman for his role as “The Beast.” Solon was nominated for a total of eight awards including Best Technical Execution (won last year), Best Choreography Execution, Best Supporting Actor for Chad Ressler as “Le Fou” and Best Actress for Joelle Fisher as “Belle.”

This is now Heckman’s third time winning the Dazzle award for Best Actor. His first time being during his freshman year for his role in “Shrek” as Donkey. His second being last year as Archibald Craven in “The Secret Garden.” He will receive a $1,500 prize along with a chance to go to New York to perform on Broadway at the Jimmy Awards, a national high school musical theatre program similar to Dazzle. Heckman expressed how touched he was in his acceptance speech.

“As they say in ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Home is where the heart is’ and my home will always be with the Dazzles at Playhouse Square and at Solon because they have given me the confidence to pursue acting as a career and for that I am eternally grateful,” Heckman said.

Of course, both the cast members and the directors always put forth their best efforts each year. The club spent hours after school practicing and received help from parents and various students with set design, makeup, and crew. The backstage helpers enjoyed being nominated for Best Scenic Design and Best Technical Execution, even if they didn’t take home the trophy. Jess Hrich said how fun it was working for this show and that the nomination in itself was enough.

“We all work so hard and to be recognized for that is so amazing,” Hrich said. “That’s the kind of job like ‘yeah I work in the shadows I don’t take a bow’ and that’s fine, but when occasionally you are recognized it’s just ‘yay!”

This was the first time SHS has won for Best Ensemble/Chorus and club members are thrilled. Everyone was on the edge of their seat before the show. Solon has now been nominated for three years for the Dazzle Awards which started back in 2015. A member of the ensemble, Sophomore Leah Shene, spoke on how hard the ensemble worked.

“We practiced for so many hours after school for months,” Shene said. “It was great seeing us all come together and put on such a production. And to see it all pay off and win gives us all so much satisfaction.”

And before the show, Director Kris Ferencie shared her thoughts about being able to attend the Dazzles again.

“We never know what’s going to happen because judging is such a subjective process,” Ferencie said. “The nominations are such a wonderful thing and we’re just really excited to see what happens tonight.”

During the ceremony, the three schools nominated for each tier in Best Musical perform a song of their choice from their musical. This year, Solon had 20 cast members who performed the song “Gaston” for their nomination Best Musical Tier 2. And although not all the members could perform onstage, they all were there for the honor of being recognized by Playhouse Square.

“I think it’s fun just seeing it all come together,” senior Kyle Maiorana said. “All the work that each person put in whether it’s on stage, off stage, [or] Saturday morning crew, [when] put together in the end it’s really magical,”

The whole club celebrated their accomplishments and congratulated each other and the other schools. Solon looks forward to next year’s Dazzles and hopes for the honor of being recognized at Playhouse Square again. This year, SHS Principal Erin Short attended the Dazzle Awards and commented on how wonderful it is for the Drama club to be representing Solon.

“Honestly, I’m very proud for the students and all their accomplishments,” Short said. “We’re just here tonight to celebrate them and everything that they do with the magic they bring to the stage.”