2024 Metro Awards: 'Les Miz' — and 2 Brewster sisters — win big; full list (2024)

Peter D. KramerRockland/Westchester Journal News

PURCHASE — It was a big night for St. Joseph Regional High School's production of "Les Miserables" Monday night at the Metro Awards. The musical based on the epic story of crime, punishment and redemption was named outstanding overall production and won three other honors at the annual celebration of high school musicals in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Bergen counties.

The musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's story was nominated for 13 Metro Awards, the high school equivalent of the Tony Award for participating productions in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Bergen counties.

Metros rewind: Re-live the Metros on-demand, and with our live blog

St. Joseph, which had the most nominations, won the most Metro Awards. In addition to overall production, considered the night's top award, "Les Miserables" won for supporting actor (Derek Bedell as Marius), music direction (Ed Ginter), and for hair and makeup design (Derek Alfano and Chelsey Cavalcante).

Two sisters, three Metros. One epic night.

It was nearly as epic a night for the Arocho family of Brewster, which came close to matching that Metros tally: Arianna Arocho won best female vocal performance for playing Brenda Strong in Archbishop Stepinac's "Catch Me If You Can," and her older sister, Ivelisse, won two awards: for comedic performance by a female and for best duet, an award she shared with Tessa Boissonnault.

Because Stepinac is an all-boys Catholic high school, it fills out its female roles from the surrounding area, meaning that once Arianna landed the coveted role of Brenda Strong, the love interest of conman Frank Abagnale Jr., the Brewster junior logged plenty of miles on I-684 between Brewster and White Plains.

Meanwhile, Ivelisse, a Brewster senior, stayed closer to home to tackle a role not written for a female. She played the comic gangster Moonface Martin, "Public Enemy #13" in Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" on her home stage at Brewster, where she had roles in "James and the Giant Peach" and "Footloose."Moonface Martin is typically played by a male performer, but director Nikki Sanders Siriani cast Arocho, a strong comedic actress, in the role. Arocho, a senior with a history of meaty roles, played the comic Public Enemy #13 to a Metro win.

"When our cast list first came out, I thought it was a joke," Arocho said in accepting her first Metro of the night. She thanked her director, her director's husband (who directs the fall drama), her voice teacher. She thanked her mom and dad and kid brother Lucas.

She then said: "I want to give a shoutout to my sister, Arianna," a nominee for overall production for Brewster and Stepinac. "I would not be anywhere I am tonight without you. I love you."

Later, she was back at the podium, winning for duet with Tessa Boissonnault, with her second Metro win. (She won in the featured ensemble group category last year, with Autumn Takacs, in “James and the Giant Peach.”)

Boissonnault, at the podium beside Arocho: "I have to start by saying this is one of the most incredible women I've ever met."

Arocho to Boissonnault: "I want to thank this beautiful lady right here. Working with you has been amazing and I just want to say when other friendships have been forgot, ours will still be hot." (That's a line from their winning duet, "Friendship.")

'Les Miz' scores big

When St. Joseph's win for overall production was announced, there was an eruption from house right, as St. Joe's realizes the top award is theirs. Producer John Asselta jogs to the stage. "Wow! I want to thank the Metros for this prestigious honor. Watching your performances tonight, I'm convinced you're just as worthy as us."

Asselta said the senior boys had been lobbying for "Les Miserables" for years, singing the songs as they walked by his office. It worked, apparently, and St, Joe's has a Metros win to show for it.

Top acting honors for Harrison, Carmel

The top acting honors went to leading actress Jadyn Schwartz, who played alpha female Regina George in "Mean Girls" at Harrison High School, and to leading actor Sam Corry, who played upwardly mobile window washer J. Pierrepont Finch in Carmel High School's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Lohud.com was live at Monday's Metro awards, with videographer Peter Carr's livestream of pre-show interviews and the entire ceremony, both of which are viewable on-demand at lohud.com. There's also an extensive gallery of images from photographer Seth Harrison and from the social media team of Alexandra Rivera and Ashley Fontones. And there's a live blog that followed the action — including one family that took home nearly as many Metro Awards as St. Joseph's "Les Miserables."

Tweaks that made the Metros exceptional

Producers Blake Spence and Jordan Singer made changes this year that made the awards ceremony feel special.

Leading actor and actress nominees shared the stage for longer stretches, performing side by side, serving as chorus and then taking center stage in a collegial give-and-take. The medleys were crafted by Westchester musical wunderkind Michael Mastroianni and served the moment perfectly.

The actor nominees were: Archbishop Stepinac, Ryan Diaz as Carl Hanratty, “Catch Me If You Can”; Bergen County Academies, Christopher Bruno as Nick Bottom, “Something Rotten!”; Carmel, Sam Corry as J. Pierrepont Finch, “How to Succeed…”; Clarkstown North, Zach Degen as Gomez Addams, “The Addams Family”; Lakeland, Sebastian Goldstein as Billy Flynn, “Chicago: Teen Edition”; Ramsey, Nate Algor as Emmett Forrest, “Legally Blonde”; St. Joseph, Liam Fahey as Jean Valjean, “Les Misérables.”

The crowd claps along for Billy Flynn (Sebastian Goldstein) as he croons about love. Then it's Christopher Bruno's turn to badmouth Shakespeare as Nick Bottom. The guys become a chorus to support his diatribe. Next up is Zach Degen as Gomez Addams to sing "Not Today," with the guys lined up behind him. They're clearly having fun with it. Turn the page to Liam Fahey as Jean Valjean. When he says "He's like the son I might have known," Degen gets a laugh when he mimes "Me?" Then it's serious as Fahey goes into "Bring Him Home" and the men stand still. Next is Ryan Diaz as inspector Carl Hanratty singing about Breaking All the Rules and the guys become a shimmying chorus again. Then Nate Algor as Emmett Forrest singing about Elle Woods and the guys circle him. Last is Sam Corry as Finch, singing of the Brother of Man. Soon the guys are in on the act, singing full out for the finale.

This is a change this year, and a great way to build esprit de corps.

Ladies' turn

When the leading actress nominees stood center stage, it was: Brewster, Tessa Boissonnault as Reno Sweeney, “Anything Goes”; Dwight-Englewood, Sophia Vermés as Olive Ostrovsky, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”; Harrison, Jadyn Schwartz as Regina George, “Mean Girls”; Immaculate Heart Academy, Madeline Heinimann as Donna Sheridan, “Mamma Mia!”; Lyndhurst, Angelina Brennen as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde”; Pelham, Maddy Lyons as The Witch, “Into the Woods”; Tappan Zee, Kiki Zervoudis as Sophie Sheridan, “Mamma Mia!”

Boissonnault is back fresh from her duet win, to sing "Blow, Gabriel Blow," with her co-nominees singing backup. Next up is Kiki Zervoudis as Sophie singing "Thank You for the Music" as the ladies cluster. Then Jadyn Schwartz holds court as Regina George with the ladies weaving a web of gossip behind her. Next is Maddy Lyons as the witch singing "The Last Midnight." Then Sophia Vermes as the forlorn Olive Ostrovsky singing to her missing mother, consoled by her knot of friends. Then Madeline Heinimann sings "The Winner Takes It All," downstage, defiant, with a harmonizing chorus backing her up. Last is Angelina Brennen as Elle Woods singing "So Much Better," with all the nominees striking a pose.

Powerful performances.

2024 Metro Awards winners

Here are the winners of the 2024 Metropolitan High School Theater Awards, presented June 10, 2024 at Purchase PAC by the Helen Hayes Youth Theater.

Overall production: St. Joseph Regional High School for “Les Miserables: School Edition.”

Leading actress: Harrison’s Jadyn Schwartz as Regina George in “Mean Girls.”

Leading actor: Carmel’s Sam Corry as J. Pierrepont Finch in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

Director: Academy of Holy Angels’ Katie Collins, “Urinetown.”

Supporting actress: Academy of Holy Angels’ Eva Zazzali as Little Sally in “Urinetown.”

Supporting actor: St. Joseph’s Derek Bedell as Marius in “Les Misérables.”

Featured role: Northern Valley/Old Tappan’s Sophia Ashbahian as Jellylorum in “Cats.”

Ensemble group: Fair Lawn’s Mariella Galdieri, Michal Semory Gertler, and Rebecca Rosen as Pilar, Margot and Serena, in “Legally Blonde.”

Female cameo: Rutherford’s Liz Dunlop as Clarisse La Rue in “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.”

Male cameo: Pelham’s Andrew Scott as The Mysterious Man in “Into the Woods.”

Female vocal: Arianna Arocho as Brenda Strong in Stepinac’s “Catch Me If You Can.”

Male vocal: Stepinac’s Calvin Lindo as Frank Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can.”

Chorus: Harrison’s “Mean Girls.”

Child performer: Gabriella Berkman, who played Molly in Tuckahoe High School’s “Annie.”

Scenic design: Rye Country Day’s Jac-que Robinson for “Into the Woods.”

Music direction: St. Joseph’s Ed Ginter for “Les Misérables.”

Duet: Brewster’s Tessa Boissonnault as “Reno Sweeney” and Ivelisse Arocho as “Moonface Martin” singing “Friendship.”

Lighting design: Immaculate Heart Academy’s Nikki Belenski for “Mamma Mia!”

Production number: Nyack’s “Greased Lightning” in “Grease.”

Costume design: Bergen County Academies, Terry Thiry, Janet Hughes, Christine Beidel, and Jack Nuciforo, “Something Rotten!”

Technical merit (tie): Blind Brook’s Veronica Babiuk, production stage manager for “Mamma Mia!”; North Salem Middle/High School’s Matthew Graham, assistant to the lighting designer/light board operator, for “Hello, Dolly!”; Northern Valley/Old Tappan’s Matthew Mancinelli, student lighting designer and lighting programmer, for “Cats”; Westlake’s Sean Gray, set designer, lighting designer and technical director, for “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

Acting performance by a female-identifying performer: Pascack Valley’s Maya Teckwani as Taylor McKessie in “Disney’s High School Musical.”

Acting performance by a male-identifying performer: Academy of the Holy Angels’ Joe Lizzi as Officer Lockstock in “Urinetown.”

Hair and makeup design: St. Joseph’s Derek Alfano and Chelsey Cavalcante for “Les Miserables: School Edition.”

Stage crew: Midland Park’s “The Addams Family.”

Female dance performance: Lakeland High School’s Lily Wallace as Liz in “Chicago: Teen Edition.”

Male dance performance: Rye Neck’s Jian Kawai as Lumiere in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

Choreography: Brewster’s Nikki Sanders Siriani, for “Anything Goes.”

Small group number: “Mama Says,” from Pleasantville’s “Footloose.”

Student critic: Gianna Cassino of Eastchester High School, who reviewed Hastings High School’s “Urinetown.”

Outstanding student pit musician: Hastings' Jasper Zimmerman on piano, “Urinetown.”

Outstanding student orchestra: Lakeland’s “Chicago: Teen Edition.”

Female comedic performance: Brewster’s Ivelisse Arocho as Moonface Martin in “Anything Goes.”

Male comedic performance: Ramapo (NJ)’s Leonardo Fornasieri, as Aldolpho, in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Graphic design: Mahwah’s Daleena Wong for “Les Miserables.”

Lobby Display (tie): Hastings’ Emma Gelman for “Urinetown”; and New Rochelle’s PAVE art students for “Young Kind of Love.”

2024 Metro Awards: 'Les Miz' — and 2 Brewster sisters — win big; full list (2024)
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