After three incredible performances of “James & The Giant Peach” last month, the South Seneca Falcon Players were recently recognized with several awards from the Theatre Association of New York State (TANYS). 

The TANYS awards were as followed:

  • Meritorious Achievement in Performance to the Cast

  • Meritorious Achievement in Performance to Abby Sherry for the portrayal of Ladahlord/Spider

  • Meritorious Achievement in Acting to Brooke Jennings for the portrayal of Spiker

  • Meritorious Achievement in Acting to Kelsi Stannard for the portrayal of Sponge

  • Excellence in Direction and Production Design to Tina Coville-Bauder and her Production Team

  • Excellence in Musical Performance to the Orchestra, led by David Turken

TANYS’ mission is to foster the contribution of theatre to the lives of the citizens of New York State; promote high standards of theatre practice through education and example; and encourage exchanges of information and knowledge through people-to-people and theatre-to-theatre exchanges. It serves all types of nonprofessional theatre companies including secondary schools, colleges, and community theatre.

So obviously, the South Seneca Falcon Players – who are TANYS members – were honored and flattered by the recognition.

“We are truly honored by our TANYS Awards for ‘James & The Giant Peach,’” Director Tina Coville-Bauder said. “It is wonderful to see the talents & hard work of all of our individuals being recognized and even more of an honor when we hear feedback from an experienced adjudicator saying things like ‘I could really feel the heart in the art on that stage tonight’ and ‘I had to keep looking in the program to confirm that most of these actors were only in middle school.’”

Senior Abby Sherry, who won an award for her portrayal of Ladahlord/Spider, said earning a TANYS award was one of her goals this year.

“My goal since I started working in the Falcon Players theatre was to earn a TANYS Award in my senior year production,” she said. “This award means the world to me for many reasons and I can finally say I have accomplished everything that I wanted to do in high school. Our cast is a very close knit group. I always preach to my middle schoolers that their theatre peers are their family whether they like it or not. The cast really took that to heart in this show. This show was a massive success because we knew we could all rely on each other to give it our all!”

Eighth grader Kelsi Stannard, who was honored for her portrayal of Sponge, was very pleased as well.

“This TANYS Award means a lot to me,” she said, “because when I first started out in our theatre I got small roles and over time I was able to show that I can handle the responsibility and work that really goes into creating a character and that I could handle a bigger role. Playing Sponge in our show gave me the opportunity to prove what I can really do. I think that our show was a great success because we all gave it our all, but even more than that because of the theatre family bond that we share.”

Eighth grader Brooke Jennings, who was honored for her portrayal of Spiker, echoed her counterparts’ sentiments. 

“To me being recognized by TANYS means that all the effort put into bringing my character to life has really paid off,” Jennings said. “It shows me that my portrayal of Spiker was entertaining for audiences and that I need to keep on doing what I'm doing. I think that ‘James & The Giant Peach’ was a success due to the cast, crew and production team coming together as a whole theatre family.”

Other members who were involved in the enormous success of the show included those such as Program Producer/Visual and Sounds Effects Creator Andrea Puls, Costumer Nicole Nelson, and Assistant Director Chad Eastman. All three emphasized how much of a team effort this year’s performance was, and how much the success of the show was a reflection of the production team being excited about the show, and pushing not only themselves, but the very young cast to be the best they could all be as one unit.

Coville-Bauder could not have agreed more.

“We give our students that space and grace to work through things together and build trust. None of them wants to let us down, but even more they won't let each other down, so they ‘lock in’ and ‘bring it’ to the stage. TANYS recognizes our work together and always inspires us to continue to grow in our craft.”

“The success of ‘James & The Giant Peach’ comes from our cast, crew, and production team completely buying into creating great theatre together. We spend a lot of intense time together over the course of producing a show. Creating a theatre family in a school theatre program is just as important to us as creating an outstanding production. Indeed, one grows from the other. The effort and heart combined with the empathy, compassion, human connection and problem solving that we get to experience and practice while creating characters and stories together is like nothing you can find anywhere else in life. From start to finish it is an artistic theatre experience that transforms each of us in many ways.”