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Patriot Players Win Top Award at Shuler Hensley
HHS theatre director Michelle Thorne accepts the award on behalf of HHS for Best Overall Production at the 2017 Shuler Hensley Awards - photo courtesy of ArtsBridge/Ben Rose.Conyers, Ga. – It was a big night for Heritage High School (HHS) and for the arts in Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) at the 9th Annual Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Shuler Hensley Awards, as the Patriot Players’ production of Les Misérables won the top award of the evening - Best Overall Production.

HHS senior Ramone Nelson also won Lead Actor for his role as Jean Valjean and performed "Bring Him Home" at the awards show. He will travel to New York City in June to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

The Shuler Awards, fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, celebrates excellence in high school musical theatre. The 9th annual awards show was produced by ArtsBridge at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on April 20, 2017 and televised by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

In her acceptance speech for Best Overall Production, Les Misérables Director and Academy for Visual and Performing Arts at HHS Instructor Michelle Thorne quoted Victor Hugo, "Wherever misery and ignorance exists in the world, stories such as 'Les Misérables' must be told." She thanked the casts, crews, teachers, families, and communities that support high school theater. "Thank you for making high school theater happen! It's not just a good idea, it's the hope for our world."

As one of six Overall Production Award nominees, the cast of HHS's Les Misérables performed "One Day More" at the awards show, bringing the house to its feet in a standing ovation. HHS also had nominations in Music Direction (Terrance Green), Featured Performer (Mekhi Hamm as Marius), Ensemble and an honorable mention in Lighting (Fenna Henderson).

Salem High School (SHS) students Ally Denhart-Fung and Naz Harvey and HHS students Lathan Roberts and Malaikia Sims-Winfrey performed in the Shuler Student Ensemble at the awards show. SHS student Brionne Butler was chosen to serve as a production assistant in the S.T.A.R. Council. HHS student Ariana Hardaway received the Performers Warehouse Summer Intensive Scholarship.

Thorne said, "Winning the Shuler Award associates the Academy for Performing and Visual Arts at Heritage with the excellence and commitment to the arts in our schools that ArtsBridge represents. I am at once humbled and proud to be a part of a high school theatre group such as the Heritage High School Patriot Players whose goal is to create an ensemble on stage and in our community. High school theatre is about so much more than what happens on stage."

HHS Principal Greg Fowler said, “We are very excited that our students and staff were recognized for their outstanding talents on such a big stage. Our school has a long history of top quality theatre productions, celebrating 40 years of Patriot Players this year. The addition of our Academy for Performing and Visual Arts specialty program has brought the talent and dedication to theatre to a whole new level, which was affirmed on-stage at the Shuler awards. I am both proud and appreciative of the students, staff and parents involved with fine arts at Heritage High School.”

This year, the HHS Patriot Players family celebrates its 40th Anniversary with a production of Phantom of the Opera, April 27-May 7. HHS Patriot Players alumni are invited to a reception at the school April 29 at 2 p.m., featuring keynote speaker Chris Belcher, a Broadcast Publicist for Walt Disney Studios and HHS alum. An Alumni Picnic will be held May 6 at 2 p.m.

The Academy for Performing and Visual Arts at Heritage High School was founded in 2014 for students with exceptional talent in the arts. Its goal is to develop and nurture talented young artists for successful vocations, avocations and advocacy in the arts through extensive training programs and classes in dance, drama or technical theatre, instrumental music, visual arts, and vocal music while maintaining high academic achievement. For more information on the Academy and other Specialty and Choice Programs at RCPS, please visit www.rockdaleschools.org/specialty

Thirty-five public and private schools from throughout the state were nominated in 17 categories for Shuler Awards this year. To determine the nominees, a team of more than 60 Georgia-based arts professionals evaluated the productions of 75 participating high schools. Awards were presented in 17 categories. The accounting firm of Bennett Thrasher tabulated the results. For full list of nominees, click here.


Pictured below: The HHS cast of Les Misérables performs "One Day More" and brings the crowd on its feet in a standing ovation at the April 20, 2017 Georgia High School Musical Theater Shuler Hensley Awards show. (Photo courtesy of ArtsBridge/Ben Rose)

Heritage High School performs One Day More from Les Miserables at the 2017 Shuler Hensley Awards show - photo courtesy of ArtsBridge/Ben Rose


Pictured below: HHS senior Ramone Nelson, who won Best Leading Actor for his role as Jean Valjean, sings "Bring Him Home" at the April 20, 2017 Georgia High School Theater Shuler Hensley Awards show. (Photo courtesy of ArtsBridge/Ben Rose)

HHS senior Ramone Nelson, who won Best Leading Actor for his role as Jean Valjean, sings "Bring Him Home" at the April 20, 2017 Georgia High School Theater Shuler Hensley Awards show.


Pictured below: HHS senior Ramone Nelson accepts the award for Best Leading Actor at the April 20, 2017 Shuler Hensley Awards show. (Photo courtesy of ArtsBridge/Ben Rose)

HHS senior Ramone Nelson accepts the award for Best Leading Actor at the April 20, 2017 Shuler Hensley Awards. (Photo courtesy of ArtsBridge/Ben Rose)


Pictured below: HHS Patriot Players team proudly display their 2017 Shuler Hensley T-shirts in celebration of the 40th anniversary of HHS Theatre and re-enact their reaction to hearing HHS named as the winner of Best Overall Production.

HHS Patriot Players group photo as they re-enact their reaction to hearing that HHS had won the 2017 Shuler Best Overall Production Award.