This year at Montclair State University's third annual Theatre Night Awards, they can expect a significant Chatham contingent.
The awards, which are offered for excellence in for high school drama productions, have nominees Chatham High School's fall production of "Our Town" in seven categories:
- Outstanding Production of a Drama,
- Outstanding Overall Production of a High School Play,
- Outstanding Production by an Actor in a Leading Role for David Wych,
- Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Courney Johnson,
- Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design by Tina Mazzola,
- Outstanding Achievement in Stage Directon by Lynn Polan and
- Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design.
Polan, the Chatham High School theater teacher and director of "Our Town," said of the news, "I'm really proud of it. I thought it was a really good production, and I'm pleased it's getting some recognition."
This is Polan's second year teaching at Chatham High School, and the third year that Montclair State is holding the Theatre Night Awards. She learned of the awards after attending a week-long conservancy program at Montclair State and had it in her mind to send in the Chatham High School fall production, which is always a non-musical, for the awards.
Polan, who used to direct the plays at Chatham Middle School before transferring, said, "One of my personal goals for moving to the high school was to raise the visibility and the profile of the theater program at CHS, and to bring some wider recognition to the good work that was being done here."
Polan said she'd always wanted to direct "Our Town," but over the summer of 2010 there was a problem getting the rights because an Off-Broadway production was showing. Instead she found a play called "Radium Girls" by D.W. Gregory. "There was a factory in New Jersey where they had girls painting glow-in-the-dark watches and clocks with radium-laced paint, and they all got sick and died from radiation poisoning," Polan said.
Then, just before the school year started, Polan was told she could have the rights to "Our Town." She sent in two DVDs of the production the Theatre Night Awards, and nominations were announced last week.
"These awards bring attention to non-musical high school theater, and then Paper Mill does the Rising Star awards which is all about musicals," Polan said.
The awards ceremony will be on May 5 at Montclair State and all nominees are invited to attend. Polan said there is a small fee for tickets. She said that she, Mazzola and Johnson will definitely attend, but that she has not heard yet from other students, parents or volunteers who would like to attend.
Susan Kerner, the associate professor in the Theatre and Dance Department at Montclair State who runs the Theatre Night Awards, did not immediately respond to calls requesting comments.