Tonawanda News — Both Burris and Riviera are no strangers to the stage. Burris played Dorothy in an eighth-grade production of “Wizard of Oz” and was Chiffon in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Riviera had more of a behind-the-scenes role in “Little Shop of Horrors” working as the puppeteer for the plant Audrey II.
“This is my third musical,” Riviera said. “The first, I was on stage crew, but I still count that. But this is my first lead role. I was so excited and so happy when I found out I got Danny. I’ve always wanted to play Danny.”
Riviera and Burris, friends before the casting, both believed the other would get the lead.
“It is amazingly exhausting but I’m so happy to be a part of it,” Riviera said.
The production includes a cast of 35 students and total of 55 students between the cast, crew and pit orchestra. Auditions were held in November and rehearsals began shortly thereafter.
“The key to ‘Grease’ is playing off each other,” Burris said. “In ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ the parts were more individual. Here, there is more of a group.”
What makes this year’s production extra special is that the show has been nominated for the prestigious Kenny Awards, which recognize local schools for excellence in producing and performing musicals.
The 21st annual awards will be presented at Shea’s Performing Arts Center and The Lipke Foundation on May 10. The cast will perform at Shea’s along with other competing schools and the winner will be announced that night.
“So that puts more pressure on us,” Lynch said. “The Kenny Awards are like the Tony Awards with eight to 10 schools competing from Erie County. But it’s a huge honor and the kids are really excited.”
At Tonawanda High School, three Kenny trophies stand in the glass cases outside the auditorium. The school has consistently applied for the awards during their history and has been a finalist three or four times.