JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa.; May 8, 2024 – Thomas Jefferson High School's musical theater production of "Beauty and the Beast" has earned 11 nominations for the prestigious Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards, including for Best Musical for the third consecutive year.

Thomas Jefferson's Beauty and the Beast is one of two finalists for Best Musical in Budget Level IV, competing against Woodland Hills' production of Wonderland for the top honor. Best Musical will be selected in four budget categories.

Thomas Jefferson's Beauty and the Beast was nominated in all eight Gene Kelly Awards ensemble categories for the second consecutive year, led by Best Musical. The other categories are: Best Scenic Design, Best Vocal Ensemble, Best Dance Ensemble, Best Crew/Technical Execution, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Student Orchestra (one of six overall nominees)

In the acting categories, TJ's Olivia Virgin was selected a Gene Kelly Awards finalist for Best Actress and Kayleigh Johnson was named a finalist for Best Supporting Actress. Johnson was a Best Actress semifinalist in 2023. Aidan Oeler was a 2024 semifinalist in the Best Actor category and Eli Fisher was a semifinalist in the Best Supporting Actor category. There are six overall nominees in each of the acting categories.

Additionally, TJ student Brady Bandik was nominated for Outstanding Student Artist.

Beauty and the Beast was directed by Jim Benedek, who teaches Technology Education at TJ. Julie Tipton, a TJ English and theater educator, was the assistant director and Michele Stoicovy, who teaches family and consumer science at TJ, coordinated costume design. Thomas Jefferson music educators Julie Lucci (vocal director) and Jim Mirabella (orchestra pit director) also were members of the musical production team. Additional members of the Beauty and the Beast team include: Louis Smolenski (lighting director), Dave Herrington (sound director), Alana Wieclaw (dance choreographer), Jennifer Allan (business operations/publicity) and Renae Benedek.

In 2023, Thomas Jefferson's production of "Anything Goes," earned three Gene Kelly Awards and was one of two finalists for Best Musical in Budget Level IV. Ashley Caldwell was named Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Erma. For the second consecutive year, TJ's musical theater students captured Best Vocal Ensemble and Best Crew/Technical Execution in its budget level, moving up to Budget Level IV in 2023. TJ also had two Gene Kelly scholarship recipients last year, Hayden Krupp and Rachael Parsons.

Two years ago, TJ's production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical," collected five Gene Kelly Awards, including its first Best Musical honor. Legally Blonde also won Best Scenic Design, Best Vocal Ensemble, Best Dance Ensemble and Best Crew/Technical Execution in its budget level.

The Pittsburgh CLO's 33rd Annual Gene Kelly Awards will be held at the Benedum Center on Saturday, May 25.

The Gene Kelly Awards are presented by the Pittsburgh CLO and Michael J. Kara Family, with additional support from The Gismondi Family Foundation, Deloitte, Point Park University, PNC Bank, Highmark, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the CLO Ambassadors.

Thomas Jefferson is the high school that serves the West Jefferson Hills SD community.

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