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What's in the water?

League City high school cleans up at Tommy Tunes thanks to Urinetown

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Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Best Musical_Clear Springs High School_1 CROPPED
Clear Springs High School's production of Urinetown took home nine of the 15 Tommy Tune awards. Photo by © Bruce Bennett
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Amber Scott from G. W. Carver Magnet High School_1
Amber Scott from G.W. Carver Magnet High School. Photo by © Bruce Bennett
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Nyles Washington from G. W. Carver Magnet High School_1
Nyles Washington from G.W. Carver Magnet High School Photo by © Bruce Bennett
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Stephen Louis, Emily Lewis, Tommy Tune, Nyles Washington, Amber Scott, Kyle Legacion, Emily Scott, and John Breckenridge
Stephen Louis, from left, Emily Lewis, Tommy Tune, Nyles Washington, Amber Scott, Kyle Legacion, Emily Scott and John Breckenridge. Photo by © Bruce Bennett
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Tommy Tune, Ruth Denney Winner Sean Hardin, and John Breckenridge
Tommy Tune, from left, Ruth Denney Award-winner Sean Hardin and John Breckenridge. Photo by © Bruce Bennett
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Best Musical_Clear Springs High School_1 CROPPED
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Amber Scott from G. W. Carver Magnet High School_1
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Nyles Washington from G. W. Carver Magnet High School_1
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Stephen Louis, Emily Lewis, Tommy Tune, Nyles Washington, Amber Scott, Kyle Legacion, Emily Scott, and John Breckenridge
Tommy Tune Awards 2014 Tommy Tune, Ruth Denney Winner Sean Hardin, and John Breckenridge

The students and staff of Clear Springs High School must have been peeing in their pants as accolades — one after another after another — recognized their production of the quirky musical Urinetown. As the emerging show biz stars heard their alma mater's name again and again at the 12th Annual Tommy Tune Awards, presented by Theatre Under the Stars on Wednesday, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts was overflowing with a stream of boisterous cheer that's only possible coming from vivacious students who have their whole life ahead of them.

The spotlight was shinning bright as the League City school earned honors for Best Lighting Design, Best Scenic Design, Best Crew and Technical Execution, Best Ensemble/Chorus, Best Musical Direction, Best Direction and Best Musical plus Best Leading Actress thanks to Emily Lewis' portrayal of Hope Cladwell and Best Supporting Actor as a result of Stephen Louis' interpretation of the character Officer Lockstock.

The birthplace of 2013 Voice phenom Danielle Bradbery makes one wonder: What's in the water?

 "The Tommy Tune Awards nurtures an environment of camaraderie so no matter what happens on stage, no matter who wins, this is something they will remember for years to come."

"It starts with support from the top," Mark Stonebarger, director of theater, tells CultureMap. "The school administration supports us so much, our efforts are recognized and respected. Having strong parent support has been critical to our program."

Stonebarger, a 21-year veteran in theater education, strives to create an environment of collaboration between students and teachers. He downplays the importance of the main characters in favor of an overall ensemble experience that's enriching for everyone involved.

Although Clear Springs High School's productions have been nominated for Best Musical in the past three years, taking home nine out of the 15 awards came as shocking surprise.

"We are lucky," he adds. "All the kids are sweet, modest and humble and very supportive of each other and of students from other participating schools. The Tommy Tune Awards nurtures an environment of camaraderie so no matter what happens on stage, no matter who wins, this is something they will remember for years to come."

G. W. Carver Magnet High School's version of In The Heights also impressed the 33 judges, earning Best Orchestra, Best Choreography, Best Supporting Actress for Amber Scott's role as Daniela and Best Leading Actor for Nyles Washington's take on Usnavi. Klein Oak High School took Best Costume Design for Guys and Dolls. Best Featured Performer went to Kyle Legacion and Emily Scott for their roles in the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts' production of Avenue Q, School Edition.

The glitzy ceremony presented cash scholarships to 10 promising students. In addition, the leading actor and actress award recipients will travel, all expenses paid, to New York City to participate in the National High School Musical Theater Awards.

"I guess you could say that the stars were aligned for us and many others at Theatre Under the Stars," Stonebarger says. "What a night."

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