Pinelands Regional Once Again Cleans Up In State Theater Competition

Wins Three Governor’s Awards and 17 Other Trophies
Feb 01, 2017

It’s awards season in the entertainment world. Golden Globes have already been handed out; performers have already taken home their Screen Actors Guild trophies. The granddaddy of them all, the Academy Awards, will be presented on Feb. 26. And then there’s the STANJ awards.

STANJ, the Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey, held its annual New Jersey Governor’s Award Competition for high school thespians at Rutgers University on Saturday and, as usual, Pinelands Regional High School practically had to hire a moving truck to haul home its booty.

For the 12th straight year, Pinelands dominated the competition, capturing 20 awards, including three first-place finishes that entitle the winners to receive prestigious Governor’s Award medals at a ceremony in Trenton this May. That’s one more Governor’s Award than in 2016. In the past dozen years, Pinelands has won almost 200 trophies in the competition, including almost 60 Governor’s Awards.

Remember the classic Greek theater masks, one smiling to represent comedy and the other bearing a woeful look to represent tragedy? Well, Pinelands students could have worn both at Rutgers.

Isabella Raposa took first in the Comedic Monologue competition, thus winning a GA. Her toughest competition in the category was a schoolmate, Tommy Allen, who finished in second. Erica Palandro and Christian DiFrancia finished fourth and fifth respectively (six awards are issued in most categories, and all persons advancing through the preliminary round to the finals earn trophies) while Li Ann Yu was a finalist.

Don’t feel sorry for Allen, though. He snared a Governor’s Award by teaming up with Jordyn Ventresca to win Dramatic Pairs. Carl Olsen and Kamryn Barr took silver. The duos of Sabrina Matarazzo and Cara Waldron and DiFrancia and Yu were finalists.

Pinelands’ third Governor’s Award was in the Scene category. The winning team consisted of DiFrancia, Barr, Matarazzo, Shane Nourie, Dan O’Brien and Paige Miller. What, no other winners? Well, only two prizes are awarded in this time-consuming category.

Pinelands seemed partial to even numbers in Comedic Pairs. Mike Frezza and Jared Fagan finished second, Tommy Madge and the versatile Allen were fourth, while Miller and Liam McGettigan were sixth.

Matarazzo scored big again in Dramatic Monologue with a second-place finish. Ventresca was sixth, and Miller was a finalist.

DiFrancia won his fourth trophy of the day by finishing fourth in Improv Pairs, along with Taylor Bongarzone. Amanda Delbury and Sarah Keady were sixth. Finalists included Raposa and Rose Farrell and Waldron and Matarazzo.

— Rick Mellerup

Isabella Raposa (left) won the Comedic Monologue competition and Chuck Miller, Rasposa's teacher and coach.
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