Hanford and Richland high schools honored at 5th Avenue High School Musical Awards

June 10, 2014 

Hanford High came home with two big wins from the 5th Avenue Theatre’s High School Musical Awards ceremony, held Monday night at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.

Anna Hansen won for best supporting actress and the school’s band won for best orchestration.

Adding to the night’s excitement for Tri-Citians was Richland High drama director Ellicia Elliott being presented outstanding educator award. The show was broadcast live from the 5th Avenue's Facebook page and featured presenters from various avenues of entertainment from television and radio personalities to noted 5th Avenue Theatre actors, as well as the mayor of Seattle.

The presenters pointed out to the audience during the ceremony that high school drama and music is as important as sports but doesn’t receive the same amount of recognition as athletes. The High School Musical Theatre Awards program is a big step in changing that philosophy.

The awards, now in its 12th year, recognizes budding actors and singers from high schools around the state in a fashion similar to how the Tony Awards recognizes Broadway productions.

When Hansen, who played Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street, took the stage to accept her award, she graciously shared the win with her fellow student actors and thanked her drama teacher Matt Leggett for his tireless efforts to inspire students.

Before she walked from the podium she said that if someone had told her as a freshman that she would be standing here she wouldn’t have believe it. Then whispering into the microphone with a smirk, she added, “Especially since I also was a dedicated athlete.”

"I'm so proud of Anna," her dad Paul Hansen told the Herald. "Over the last two years she has really blossomed as an actress. A lot of credit goes to Mr. Leggett and the rest of the Hanford drama program for encouraging her and giving her such a wonderful role in 42nd Street.

Hannah Mowry accepted the outstanding orchestra award for Hanford High and the first thing she told the audience when she stepped to the podium and chirped, “Don’t know why I’m so excited I just play the trumpet.”

But she kept it together and gave kudos to Hanford’s music director Kevin Swisher who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Swisher told the Herald via email Tuesday his musicians stepped up to the challenge of performing the music in full view of the audience instead of the orchestra pit.

“And the students were prepared to handle all the tough keys because of their diligence in practicing,” he said. As for Hannah standing in his place at the ceremony he had this to say.

“Hannah is undoubtedly the musical and social leader of the group.”

Elliott faced the audience with tears but held her composure as she gave a short heartfelt speech recognizing the talent of her students.

“I am extremely humbled by this award,” Elliott said. “Teaching has always been an important part of my life, but I must thank all my students, past and current, for all the things they’ve taught me.”

w Dori O’Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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