The Arts

North Fork high schools break a leg at Teeny Awards

Students from Greenport, Mattituck, Riverhead and Southold high schools all brought home awards at the 21st annual Teeny Awards ceremony held at Longwood High School Sunday.

Riverhead-based arts and music nonprofit East End Arts hosts the annual affair, modeled after the Tony Awards, to highlight exceptional efforts on stage and behind the scenes that make high school plays and musicals possible. The event gathers members of various Long Island communities together to celebrate their students and reinforce the importance of the arts in young people’s lives.

This year, instead of male and female categories, nominees of all genders up for awards in lead and supporting categories for plays, musical comedies and musical dramas appeared together in each of the six categories, with two winners selected from each.

A pair of Southold students, Michaela Lynch and Violet Rand, each won Supporting Role in a Play awards for their performances as the characters of Annie and Taylor in “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

Several Teeny winners delivered heartfelt speeches through tears, including Michaela, who after working behind the scenes on her school’s musical production of “Elf,” said she was encouraged to test her dramatic chops front and center in the school’s play. She thanked some of her teachers and then her parents, who played a starring role in guiding her to her win Sunday.

“They supported me when I was going through a really rough time a few years ago,” Michaela said. “And I don’t think I ever would have had the confidence to do this if it wasn’t for them.”

Michaela Lynch and Violet Rand embrace onstage at the 2023 Teeny Awards after winning the two awards for supporting role in a play. (Credit: Nicholas Grasso)

Among the few hundred people in attendance were Violet’s grandmother Ronnie Matovcik, who drove her to her dance practices as a kid, and her grandfather Jerry Matovcik.

“It’s always exciting to see these young people nominated for these awards because of all the work that goes into a production, the singing, the dancing, costumes, ensembles,” Mr. Matovcik said. “Now that our granddaughter is graduating, it’s really a special time for us.”

Prior to Sunday, it was announced that Southold High School’s entire production of “The Play That Goes Wrong” received this year’s Judge’s Choice Award in a tie with Center Moriches High School, who were recognized for their performance of “Jailhouse Rock” from the Elvis Presley jukebox musical “All Shook Up.”

Sunday’s awards ceremony saw high schoolers from across Suffolk County take the stage to perform musical numbers from the nominated shows and comedy sketches written for the ceremony, including numbers from Southold’s production of “Elf” and Mattituck High School’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

A few minutes prior to taking the stage to perform “The I Love You Song” from “Spelling Bee,” a surprised Camryn Trant won the award for Outstanding Performer in a Musical for her roles as Mitch Mahoney and Olive’s Mom.

Riverhead High School’s Avery Rubino took home the award for Lead Role in a Musical Comedy for her performance as Dee Dee Allen in “The Prom.” Holding back tears, she shared how far she has come as an actress as her high school career comes to a close and thanked her family, her peers and the staff behind the musical.

“About two years ago I had the worst stage fright of my life,” she said. “So receiving this award is truly such an honor.”

The cast of Riverhead High School’s “The Prom” perform at the 2023 Teeny Awards. (Credit: Nicholas Grasso)

Near the end of the evening’s program, Teeny Awards organizer Kasia Klimiuk took to the stage to announce the two winners of a $500 Long Island Musical Theater Festival scholarship to attend a two-week musical theater intensive, during which they will learn from Broadway artists. 

Jayda Hubbard, a sophomore at Greenport High School who was among more than 60 technical recognition honorees awarded for their behind the scenes efforts in the 15 plays and 22 musicals showcased this school year, was shocked when Ms. Klimiuk called her to the stage as the first winner. Like many of her peers that evening, Jayda was at a loss for words, but ultimately found them to share what her time on stage meant to her.

“This year, [with] ‘Grease’ I had the chance to bring out my bubbly personality, be the kind person that I try to be,” she said.

For a complete list of Teeny Award winners, click here.