Saugus High recognized for production of ‘Cinderella’ 

Student Katie Sutherland played the Fairy Godmother. Courtesy of Cynthia Wortmann-Tenorio.
Student Katie Sutherland played the Fairy Godmother. Courtesy of Cynthia Wortmann-Tenorio.
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Saugus High School’s theater students have done it again: Up for an award at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Hollywood for their production of “Cinderella,” the glass slipper fit. 

Saugus theater took home the award for Best Musical Staging and Choreography 

during the 11th annual Jerry Herman High School Musical Theatre Awards of Los Angeles, presented in June. The last time Saugus won in the competition was in 2017 for its performance of “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

The win was a pleasant surprise for Gina Painter, the theater teacher at Saugus for the past 12 years. 

Screen of Saugus High School being announced as winners during the ceremony.
Saugus High School was announced for the Best Musical Staging and Choreography category during The Jerry Herman Awards on June 4, 2023. Photo courtesy of Gina Painter.

While honored, Painter recognizes the hard work that was needed to ensure the success of the production. 

“When you’re directing, or choreographing, a show, [you’re] looking at the big picture and telling the story within the staging and the dance,” Painter said. “Everything has to connect, and I think that we do a good job of making sure that everything connects and tells the story. I think a lot of it is just attention to detail, like making sure that every moment matters.” 

Like a puzzle piece, each person is aware of their role, and while their roles may differ, the end result is weaved perfectly. 

“The kids at Saugus work really hard. They’re super talented. They’re there so many hours, they’re there on the weekends, they’re there at night. They work really hard to make it pretty spectacular.” 

Designed to recognize the best actors and productions of L.A., The Jerry Herman Awards support the achievements of high school productions in Southern California. 

Student Elaina Trousdale sitting on the steps of the house while singing.
Student Elaina Trousdale played Cinderella in the production. Photo courtesy of Gina Painter.

Throughout a seven-month period, high school productions that are eligible, often with the production ready for performance, submit their application with a video of their current set. Judges then narrow the selections, and the schools are eventually notified of their nomination in their respective categories. It isn’t until the award ceremony where each high school that won is announced. 

This year, 33 high schools were judged. 

In the grand scheme of things, having Saugus not only be nominated, but win, meant a lot to the students, Painter said. 

“It was a really exciting night. Our kids were recognized for all of their hard work,” Painter said. “I always say that you can’t control the judging, but the only thing you control is what you know — the product that you put out on the stage. But, it’s also really nice to be recognized for your hard work.” 

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