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Parkland high school performs a song from “The SpongeBob Musical” during the 2024 Freddy Awards on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at the State Theatre in Easton. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)
Parkland high school performs a song from “The SpongeBob Musical” during the 2024 Freddy Awards on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at the State Theatre in Easton. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)
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When President and CEO Shelley Brown of the State Theatre in Easton promised three hours of joy from the 2024 Freddy Awards Thursday evening, she wasn’t kidding.

Flashy costumes, bombastic vocal performances, expert choreography, an enthusiastic audience with cheers that almost seemed to threaten the building’s structural integrity — all of these and more marked the show that honored the best theater productions from Lehigh Valley high schools.

Here are some key moments from the event.

One student, two awards

Dieruff High School student Melo Rodriguez, who played Herr Shultz in the school’s “Cabaret” production, snagged two Freddys on Thursday.

He and Mayrali Melendez won Outstanding Small Ensemble Performance before Rodriguez himself won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.

Rodriguez thanked Dieruff for letting the students produce a show that depicted mature themes, and implored those watching to “be kind to your fellow man. Don’t ignore the troubles of the world.”

2024 Freddy Awards show | PHOTOS

Theater with a cause

Laurie Hackett, the director of community relations for Air Products, honored Nazareth Area High School for the work students did to help protect the environment.

This included raising over $5,600 from its production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” for the nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup, as well as creating curriculum for younger students regarding recycling, ocean conservation and pollution.

“They showed that people can, indeed, make simple changes to create a more sustainable world,” Hackett said.

2024 Freddy Awards red carpet arrivals | PHOTOS

The prodigal theater kid returns

A Liberty High School alum from over a decade ago attended this year’s Freddy Awards and shared where his artistic pursuits had taken him since.

Zack Spadaccia performed at the 2012 Freddy Awards before studying at Penn State University and becoming a project manager at 4Wall Entertainment, where he now works on entertainment projects such as concert lighting.

He previously was recognized as a contributor behind an Emmy lighting award for the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

How did Spadaccia get where he is now?

“In the very, very beginning, my dad did stage crew when he was in high school, and he encouraged me to join the stage crew in middle school,” he said. “I followed it all the way through high school, and I made a career out of it.”

Star-studded scholarships

Speaking of going to college, students Ayden Gonzalez of Dieruff High School and Robert Morgan of Southern Lehigh High School both received four-year tuition scholarships from the West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance during the awards ceremony.

“I would not be here if it weren’t for theater or any of my castmates or friends just motivating me to do better and better every year,” Gonzalez said. “Thank you all, I love you so much.”

“Oh my God, I can’t breathe right now,” Morgan said while gasping for air. “Thank you all so much. Thank you to the Freddys and West Virginia for this amazing scholarship opportunity.”

Gonzalez played Cliff Bradshaw in “Cabaret” while Morgan played Mal Beineke in “The Addams Family: School Edition”

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