The 2022 Shuler Awards are back in-person with an exciting lineup
Shuler Hensley is a multi-talented performer with a longtime commitment to education. His generosity is evident in the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Shuler Awards or “the Shulers.” This is the 14th year of the awards being given, and the event is back live and in person on April 21. Shuler Hensley joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom and Beth Lenhart, director of arts education at the Arts Bridge Foundation, to talk more about the awards.
This year, the Shuler Awards committee judged 50 different schools’ productions, with 46 volunteer adjudicators from professional arts backgrounds viewing performances. Lenhart explained, “They basically adjudicate and evaluate the performance on various categories. Those adjudicators then will submit scores, and after the scoring, we get the nominees … We are very proud to have 20 schools actually being up for nomination.”
According to Hensley, the evolving nature of the annual event seems more apparent than ever this year. “We’ve just come through something that no one was expecting,” he said, “But it’s the talent who has evolved to where, when I was in high school and coming up in this business, to say someone was a ‘triple threat,’ was something super rare. And now it’s the standard. I mean, these kids act, sing, dance; they do everything, and they do it really well.”
Among the nominated productions are “The SpongeBob Musical,” staged by Lambert High School in Suwanee, some schools’ classic choices like “Les Misérables” and “Guys and Dolls,” and a staging of “Catch Me If You Can” by Ringgold High School that earned no fewer than 11 nominations.
After two years of virtual, online-only Shuler Awards ceremonies, this year’s event celebrates its return to tradition. Hensley stressed how meaningful it was for the Shuler Awards’ adjudicating volunteers to witness contending productions in person. “There’s a word that is profoundly important and meaningful right now, and that’s the word ‘live,’” he said.
As a seasoned theater performer himself, currently starring in Broadway’s current production of “The Music Man,” Hensley knows as well as anyone the value of a live audience. “The audience is a character in this show,” said Hensley. “Every performance, we sense the gratitude. We sense the excitement. We sense the energy that they give, and it’s invaluable.”
Of course, the Shuler Awards event will contribute its excitement and energy, ending the night as it always does with cannons and confetti. Lenhart added, “And we have all of the streamers coming out, and the … absolute joy as we dance the night away in absolute celebration.”
The 2022 Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards celebration takes place on April 21 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and will be televised on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 8:00 PM. More information is available at artsbridgega.org/programs/shuler-awards.